The pineal gland of the gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus - I. An ultrastructural study

Marcia G. Welsh, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Electron microscopy was employed in a study of the pineal gland of the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). It was determined that the gerbil pineal gland contains pinealocytes and glial cells with the pinealocytes being the predominant cell type. The pinealocytes contain numerous organelles traditionally considered as being either synthetic or secretory in function such as an extensive Golgi region, smooth (SER) and rough (RER) endoplasmic reticulum, secretory vesicles and microtubules. Other cytoplasmic components are also present in the pinealocytes (synaptic ribbons, subsurface cisternae) for which no function has been assigned. Dense-cored vesicles are rare. Vacuolated pinealocytes are present and appear to be intimately associated with the formation of the pineal concertions. Evidence presented supports the proposal that the concretions form within the vacuoles. Once the concretions reach an enlarged state, the vacuolated pinealocytes break down and the concretions are thus extruded into the extracellular space where they apparently continue to increase in size. The morphology of the glial cells was interpreted as indicative of a high synthetic activity. The glial cells contain predominantly the rough variety of endoplasmic reticulum and form an expansion around the wide perivascular area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1978
Externally publishedYes


  • Concretions
  • Gerbil
  • Pineal gland
  • Pinealocytes
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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