The avian pineal gland

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10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The pineal gland plays a key role in the control of the daily and seasonal rhythms in most vertebrate species. In mammals, rhythmic melatonin (MT) release from the pineal gland is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus via the sympathetic nervous system. In most non-mammalian species, including birds, the pineal gland contains a self-sustained circadian oscillator and several input channels to synchronize the clock, including direct light sensitivity. Avian pineal glands maintain rhythmic activity for days under in vitro conditions. Several physical (light, temperature, and magnetic field) and biochemical (Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), norepinephrine, PACAP, etc.) input channels, influencing release of melatonin are also functional in vitro, rendering the explanted avian pineal an excellent model to study the circadian biological clock. Using a perifusion system, we here report that the phase of the circadian melatonin rhythm of the explanted chicken pineal gland can be entrained easily to photoperiods whose length approximates 24 h, even if the light period is extremely short, i.e., 3L:21D. When the length of the photoperiod significantly differs from 24 h, the endogenous MT rhythm becomes distorted and does not follow the light-dark cycle. When explanted chicken pineal fragments were exposed to various drugs targeting specific components of intracellular signal transduction cascades, only those affecting the cAMP-protein kinase-A system modified the MT release temporarily without phase-shifting the rhythm in MT release. The potential role of cGMP remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalChronobiology International
Volume23
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2006

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Keywords

  • Biological Clock
  • Biological Rhythm
  • Bird
  • Melatonin
  • Perifusion Methods
  • Pineal Gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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