Depression in Rat Pineal N‐Acetyltransferase Activity and Melatonin Content Produced by a Hind Leg Saline Injection is Time and Darkness Dependent

Maureen E. Troiani, Sol Oaknin, Russel J. Reiter, Mary K. Vaughan, Bruno Cozzi

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12 Scopus citations


It has recently been shown that a 1.5‐ml subcutaneous saline injection into the dorsal aspect of the hind limb induces a dramatic and rapid fall in N‐acetyltransferase activity and melatonin content of the rat pineal gland at night. Since many studies have shown the opposite response to stress during the day, the first experiment was undertaken to test whether the timing of the saline injection at night influences the response of the pineal gland. In the present studies, rats were kept under light:dark (LD) cycles of 14:10 with lights out daily at 2000 h. Groups of rats were then given a saline injection at one of the following times: 2315, 0015, 0115, 0215, or 0315. Early in the dark phase (2315 and 0015) the saline injection depressed both the N‐acetyltransferase (NAT) activity and the melatonin content of the pineal. As the animals were treated later in the dark period, the response became more blunted and, finally, disappeared. In the second experiment, animals that were kept in light during the usual dark period showed no pineal response when subjected to a hind leg injection of saline at either 2315 or 0315. Additionally, no response was seen in the two pineal parameters when rats had darkness onset delayed by 4 h (to 2400) and were then treated with saline at 0410. The results of these studies indicate that the pineal response to saline injection is time dependent. Also, if the nighttime rise in melatonin is suppressed by light exposure, a saline injection has no further inhibitory effect on pineal NAT activity or melatonin levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1987



  • adversive stimulus
  • norepinephrine
  • stress
  • sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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