Unusual responses of nocturnal pineal melatonin synthesis and secretion to swimming: Attempts to define mechanisms

Ken Yaga, Dun‐xian ‐x Tan, Russel J. Reiter, Lucien C. Manchester, Atsuhiko Hattori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Abstract: The effect of swimming at night on rat pineal melatonin synthesis was compared with that of light exposure at night. Rats were forced to swim at 0030 hr (lights out at 2000 hr) and sacrificed by decapitation 15 and 30 min later, immediately after swimming. Other groups of animals were exposed to white light (650μW/cm2) for 15 and 30 min at same time. Swimming caused a rapid and highly significant drop in the melatonin content in the pineal gland; however, the activity of N‐acetyltransferase (NAT), the supposed rate limiting enzyme in the melatonin production, was not changed. Despite the drop in pineal melatonin levels, serum concentrations of the indole remained elevated in the rats that swam. In contrast, melatonin levels in the pineal and serum of light exposed rats fell precipitously, accompanied by a significant suppression of NAT activity. Since we anticipated that the strenuous exercise associated with swimming may induce release of artrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) from the heart, which in turn could cause the release of pineal melatonin, in a second study we injected physiological saline intravenously to stretch the cardiac muscle and release ANP. Three milliliters of normal saline was injected during the day into the jugular vein of anesthetized rats that were pretreated with isoproterenol to stimulate pineal melatonin production. Animals were killed 15 min after the saline injection, and pineal NAT activity and pineal melatonin levels were measured. The saline injections caused no alteration in the elevated levels of either NAT or melatonin. These data suggest that the disparity in pineal NAT activity (which was high) and pineal melatonin (which was low), in animals swum at night, may not be caused by ANP which is released during strenuous exercise such as swimming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1993


  • 5‐hydroxyindoleacetic acid—
  • N‐acetyltransferase—
  • melatonin—
  • norepinephrine‐pineal gland—
  • rat—
  • serotonin—
  • stress—
  • swimming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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