Cervical Spinal Cord Lesions Disrupt the Rhythm in Human Melatonin Excretion
To determine whether spinal cord lesions disrupt the diurnal activity of the human pineal, urinary melatonin levels were measured over 24 hours (4 or 8-hourly intervals) in male patients with clinical evidence of cervical spinal cord transection. During the waking state, levels of melatonin in these subjects ranged from 3.2–13.5 ng/4 hours; during sleep and darkness, values ranged from 1.8–10.5 ng/4 hours. Levels of serum cortisol, aldosterone, and growth hormone showed rhythmic variations in these subjects. The absence of significant nocturnal melatonin increases distinguishes quadriplegic subjects from normal males and from one subject with a lesion of the lumbar spinal cord. These differences may be caused by “decentralization” of the pineal organ due to a lesion within the cervical spinal cord interrupting descending sympathetic fibers. If so, the human pineal, like that of other mammals, is regulated, at least in part, by activity within the central nervous system via sympathetic nervous connections.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Axelrod, J., Wurtman, R. J., Snyder, S. H.: Control of hydroxyindole-O-methyl-transferase activity in the rat pineal gland by experimental lighting. J. Biol. Chem. 740, 949–955 (1965).Google Scholar
- Fraschini. F., Collu, R., Martini, L.: Mechanisms of inhibitory action of pineal principles on gonadotrophin secretion. In: The Pineal Gland (Wolstenholme, G. E. W., Knight, J., eds.), pp. 259–273. London: Churchill Livingstone. 1971.Google Scholar
- Kinson, G.: Pineal Factors in the Control of Testicular Function, Cellular Mechanisms Modulating Gonadal Hormone Action, Vol. 2 (Singhal, R. L., Thomas, A., eds.), pp. 87–139. Baltimore: University Park Press. 1976.Google Scholar
- Rechtschaffen, A., Kales, A.: A Manual of Standardized Terminology Techniques and Scoring System for Sleep Stages of Human Subjects. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (Public Health Service). 1968.Google Scholar
- Williams, R. L., Karacan, I., Hursch, C. G.: Electroencephalography (EEG) of Human Sleep. New York: J. Wiley. 1974.Google Scholar