Food restriction retards aging of the pineal gland

Karl Arne Stokkan, Russel J. Reiter, Keico O. Nonaka, Alexander Lerchl, Byung Pal Yu, Mary K. Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The effects of chronic (40%) food restriction from 6 weeks of age were studied in aging male Fisher 344 rats. When compared with 3-month-old, ad libitum fed rats, pineal N-acetyltranfferase (NAT) activity had declined to less than 30% and pineal and serum levels of melatonin to 40% after 28 months when feeding had been ad libitum. Food restriction significantly retarded this development (P<0.05) giving NAT and melatonin levels which were twice as high as in the ad libitum fed group. Nighttime levels of pineal serotonin (5-HT) were similar in food-restricted and ad libitum fed old rats but were nearly twice as high (P<0.05) as in young rats. There was also a tendency for increased production of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the pineal gland with higher levels of 5-HT. It is concluded that aging in the rat (Fisher 344) is accompanied by a reduction of pineal NAT activity, thereby reducing the production of melatonin and causing a buildup of 5-HT in the pineal gland. It is furthermore proposed that food restriction, which markedly increases the life span and reduces age-related physiological deterioration and diseases in many animals, may mediate some of its effects through a sustained pineal activity in old age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 5 1991


  • Aging
  • Food restriction
  • Melatonin
  • N-Acetyltransferase
  • Pineal
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Food restriction retards aging of the pineal gland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this