The depression in rat pineal melatonin production after saline injection at night may be elicited by corticosterone

Maureen E. Troiani, Russel J. Reiter, Mary K. Vaughan, Aldo Gonzalez-Brito, Damon C. Herbert

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20 Scopus citations


A hind-leg subcutaneous saline injection into rats at night elicits a decrease in N-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity and melatonin content of the pineal gland. The decrement in pineal melatonin production after saline injection is prevented by adrenalectomy. The present studies were undertaken to determine what factor(s) from the adrenal gland cause(s) the drop in pineal melatonin production after saline injection at night. In the first study, groups of intact and adrenal-demedullated male rats were given a saline injection at 23.10 h (3 h, 10 min after lights off) and their pineals were collected 15 or 30 min later. Pineal NAT activity was depressed in both intact and adrenal-demedullated rats at 15 min postinjection as compared to their respective control animals. Pineal melatonin levels exhibited a drop in intact animals at 15 min and in adrenal-demedullated rats at 30 min. In a second study, hypophysectomy was found to prevent the drop in nocturnal pineal NAT activity and melatonin levels normally associated with a hind leg injection of saline. Finally, in a third experiment, groups of hypophysectomized rats were injected i.p. with corticosterone at 23.10 h and killed 10, 25 or 40 min postinjection. Corticosterone injection in hypophysectomized rats produced a response similar to that caused by saline injection in intact animals: NAT activity was depressed at 10 min and melatonin content was lowered at 25 min. These results suggest that the adrenal-mediated depression in melatonin synthesis after saline injection at night in rats may be elicited by an adrenal cortical hormone (corticosterone) and apparently does not involve the release of factors from the adrenal medulla.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 31 1988


  • Adrenal
  • Melatonin
  • Pineal
  • Pituitary
  • Rat
  • Saline injection
  • Serotonin N-acetyltransferase
  • Stres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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