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Distribution of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase—like immunoreactivity in the rat pineal organ

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The aim of the present investigation was to study the distribution in the rat pineal gland of dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH) which is essential for the formation of the melatonin synthesis-regulating substance noradrenaline (NA). In 5- and 8-month-old male Sprague-Dawley rats DBH-like immunoreactivity (DBH-LI) was studied using polyclonal antibodies against DBH and the indirect immunofluorescent technique. DBH-LI was mainly located in pincal nerve fibres coming from the superior cervical ganglia. The intensity of the staining reaction was considerably lower than in non-pineal noradrenergic nerve fibres and the impression was gained by comparison of DBH-LI specimens with glyoxylic acid-treated sections that only approximately one third of the NA-containing intrapineal nerve fibres exhibited DBH-LI. There were no detectable differences in DBH-LI with regard to time of day and age of the animals. These results sugest that NA synthesis may be relatively low in intrapineal sympathetic nerve fibers and that the NA required for the regulation of pineal melatonin synthesis may, to a large degree, stem from the circulation. In addition to nerve fibres, some rare intrapineal cell bodies exhibited DBH-LI; in 5-month-old rats their numbers did not reveal significant differences between day and night. These cells do not appear to represent pinealocytes. They may be a special population of noradrenergic nerve cells perhaps belonging to an as yet unknown intrapineal regulatory system.

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Correspondence to H. Schröder.

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Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (Grant Schr 283/1-1)

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Schröder, H., Vollrath, L. Distribution of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase—like immunoreactivity in the rat pineal organ. Histochemistry 83, 375 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00684385

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  • Nerve Fibre
  • Pineal Gland
  • Superior Cervical Ganglion
  • Sympathetic Fibre
  • Pineal Organ