Melatonin formation in mammals: In vivo perspectives
Melatonin is a hormone secreted from the pineal gland specifically at night and contributes to a wide array of physiological functions in mammals. Melatonin is one of the most well understood output of the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Melatonin synthesis is controlled distally via the circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and proximally regulated by norepinephrine released in response to the circadian clock signals. To understand melatonin synthesis in vivo, we have performed microdialysis analysis of the pineal gland, which monitors melatonin as well as the precursor (serotonin) and intermediate (N-acetylserotonin) of melatonin synthesis in freely moving animals in realtime at high resolution. Our data revealed a number of novel features of melatonin production undetected using conventional techniques, which include (1) large inter-individual variations of melatonin onset timing; (2) circadian regulation of serotonin synthesis and secretion in the pineal gland; and (3) a revised view on the rate-limiting step of melatonin formation in vivo. This article will summarize the main findings from our laboratory regarding melatonin formation in mammals.
KeywordsMelatonin Serotonin (5-HT) Pineal gland Microdialysis
Authors wish to thank Dr. Lijun Wang for help with animal care, and Ms Yaxi Chen for laboratory assistance, and Dr Michael Wang and Ms Soo Jung Lee for help with degu AANAT cloning. This work was support by grant NS057583 (to JB).
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