Temporal Effects of Norepinephrine on Pineal Serotonin In Vitro

R. F. Walker, D. L. Sparks, J. Slevin, M. E. Rush

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10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the temporal effects of norepinephrine (NE) stimulation on pineal serotonin (5HT) in vitro. Rat pineal glands were individually incubated in nutrient media for 6 h. After a 2‐h preincubation, the glands were exposed to tryptophan (TRYP) or TRYP + norepinephrine (10−4 M each) for 4 additional h. Media and pineals were then analyzed for 5HT and 5HIAA content. Initial exposure to TRYP increased 5HT levels in the media. Norepinephrine increased media 5HT concentrations further and also caused 5HIAA levels to rise significantly. These findings suggest that 5HT secretion and/or oxidation is an early response to stimulation of the pineal gland by NE. Following prolonged NE exposure, media 5HT declined to control values while 5HIAA remained high. Similarly, intrapineal levels of 5HT fell after prolonged stimulation with NE. Thus, pineal responses to initial and continued stimulation with NE are differentiable as early and late effects upon 5HT. Early effects may include secretion and/or oxidation of 5HT followed later by utilization of 5HT in N‐acetylation pathways such as that leading to melatonin synthesis. The finding that 5HT is secreted in response to NE suggests that the indoleamine may be a hormone of the pineal gland. Based upon its known influence on physiologic rhythms, daily secretion of 5HT from the pineal may be an important part of the gland's time‐keeping function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986


  • 5‐hydroxyindole acetic acid
  • norepinephrine
  • pineal in vitro
  • serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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