Sympathetic regulation of chicken pineal rhythms

Vincent M. Cassone, Michael Menaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Adult hens were chronically cannulated and held in light-dark (LD) 12:12 h lighthing regimes or in constant darkness (DD). Periodic blood sampling for 5-9 days revealed circadian rhythms in plasma melatonin titres. Superior cervical ganglionectomy (SCG-X) performed 1 week after hatching had little or no effect on these rhythms in LD, but unlike normals. SCG-X birds did not sustain persistent rhythms in DD. In SCG-X birds, norepinephrine (NE) infusion for 12 h of each 24 h in DD significantly reduced plasma melatonin titres during the infusion and re-established a rhythm. After each experiment, hens were killed, their pineals were removed and assayed by HPLC-EC for NE. dopamine (DA). serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxy-3-indole-acetic acid (5-HIAA). SCG-X resulted in a 90% depletion of pineal NE: DA content was reduced to undetectable levels. Pineal 5-HT and 5-HIAA were also reduced by SCG-X. The chicken pineal contains circadian oscillators which persist in vitro8.19.29. The results reported here suggest that noradrenergic fibres from the SCG regulate the pineal's inherent rhythmicity. NE normally released from sympathetic terminals during the bird's day may synchronize oscillators within the pineal by inhibiting melatonin synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-317
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 8 1983


  • circadian rhythm
  • melatonin
  • pineal
  • superior cervical ganglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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