The pineal gland of the gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus - II. Morphometric analysis over a 24-hour period

Marcia G. Welsh, Ivan L. Cameron, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


By means of morphometric analytical procedures, a diurnal rhythm in the cellular volume of gerbil pinealocytes was determined. This rhythm has been attributed primarily to a change in the cytoplasmic volume of the pinealocytes which is low during the daylight hours and increases to reach a peak during the middle of the dark period. At the ultrastructural level, six cytoplasmic components of the pinealocytes were found to exhibit a rhythm: free cytoplasm, smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER), rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and ribosomes, secretory vesicles, microtubules, and mitochondria. The presumptive secretory vesicles and the microtubules reached a peak in volume one hour before lights-off. It is suggested that lights-on and lights-off both signal a decrease in size and/or number of the secretory vesicles. The SER and RER/ribosomes reached their peak volume one hour after lights-off which is interpreted as indicating a peak in indoleamine synthesis and protein synthesis, respectively. The volume of free cytoplasm exhibits two peaks; one occurs one hour before lights-off while the second peak occurs in the middle of the dark phase. It is suggested that, although part of the secretory product of the pinealocyte may be present in dense-cored vesicles, other locations could include the free cytoplasm and clear secretory vesicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1979


  • Gerbil
  • Morphometric analysis
  • Pineal gland
  • Pinealocytes
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology


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