Regulation of rat pineal melatonin synthesis: Effect of monoamine oxidase inhibition

Thomas S. King, Bruce A. Richardson, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Inhibition of pineal monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity either by harmine or pargyline in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats housed in a 12 : 12 LD cycle resulted in increased pineal N-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity. Pineal MAO inhibition also increased pineal melatonin content, presumably as a result of the increased NAT activity. Conjunct treatment with propranolol, a β-adrenergic receptor antagonist, nullified these effects, regardless of the MAO inhibitor (harmine, pargyline or both) used or the inhibitor dose given. MAO inhibition during continuous light resulted in increased NAT activity greater than that observed following MAO inhibition during a 12 : 12 LD cycle. On the other hand, the increase in melatonin content following MAO inhibition during continuous light was not significantly different from that following MAO inhibition during a 12 : 12 LD cycle. Conjunct propranolol administration negated the effects of MAO inhibition on both the level of NAT activity and melatonin content, regardless of the lighting conditions. The level of pineal NAT activity is apparently regulated by the level of pineal β-adrenergic receptor stimulation. While melatonin production appears to be dependent on increases in NAT activity, biosynthesis of this methoxyindole may also be regulated, in part, by other factors or processes in the metabolic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-338
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1982


  • N-acetyltransferase
  • melatonin
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • pineal gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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