Melatonin modulates intercellular communication among cultured chick astrocytes

Jennifer L. Peters, Vincent M. Cassone, Mark J. Zoran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Melatonin, a pineal neurohormone, mediates circadian and seasonal processes in birds and mammals. Diencephalic astrocytes are sites of action, at least in birds, since they express melatonin receptors and melatonin affects their metabolism. We tested whether astrocytic calcium waves are also modulated by melatonin. Calcium waves, which we found to be regulated in cultured chick glial cells by an IP 3-dependent mechanism, were potentiated by physiological concentrations of melatonin. Melatonin also increased resting calcium levels and reduced gap junctional coupling among astrocytes, at concentrations that facilitated calcium waves. These modulatory effects were diminished by melatonin receptor blockade and pertussis toxin (PTX). Thus, melatonin induced a functional shift in the mode of intercellular communication, between junctional coupling and calcium waves, among glial cells. We suggest a mechanism where neuroglial physiology, involving GTP-binding protein signaling pathways, links rhythmic circadian outputs to pervasive neurobehavioral states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NINDS Grant PO1 NS-39546 (VMC and MJZ). Ratiometric image analysis was conducted in Cell Physiology and Molecular Image Core Facility in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University.


  • Astrocyte
  • Calcium wave
  • Chicken
  • Circadian
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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