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J Pineal Res. 1997 Sep;23(2):63-71.

The role of the intracellular and extracellular serotonin in the regulation of melatonin production in rat pinealocytes.

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  • 1Neurobiologie des Fonctions Rythmiques et Saisonni√®res, CNRS-URA 1332, Universit√© Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


This study investigated whether the activation of pinealocyte beta-adrenergic receptors is involved in the regulation of serotonin (5-HT) synthesis and release, as it is for melatonin production. In addition, the role of the intra- and extra-cellular 5-HT in modulating the synthesis of melatonin induced by the beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol (ISO) was also studied. The incubation of dissociated pinealocytes with 0.1-10 microM ISO resulted in a concentration-dependent increase of melatonin synthesis. 5-HT release and intracellular 5-HT content were increased by 0.1 and 1 microM ISO but they were reduced after ISO 10 microM. Moreover, when incubated with the tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA), the secretion of 5-HT as well as the intracellular 5-HT levels were markedly reduced in both ISO-stimulated and unstimulated conditions. Melatonin release was also inhibited by PCPA, although it responded in the expected manner to increasing concentrations of ISO. These data indicate that the release of 5-HT from pinealocytes depends on the availability of cytoplasmic 5-HT, which in turn is highly dependent on the tryptophan hydroxylase activity. In cells stimulated with moderate ISO concentrations, 5-HT release may be an important regulatory process of pineal 5-HT. After a large stimulation of N-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity by ISO, the synthesis of melatonin prevails on 5-HT release, whose decrease is associated to a deficit of intracellular 5-HT. On the other hand, the present study shows that the incubation of pineal cells with high concentrations of 5-HT or with a selective 5-HT2 receptor agonist, alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine, reverses partially the inhibitory effect of PCPA on the ISO-stimulated melatonin synthesis. In contrast the 5-HT2 antagonist, ketanserin, results in an inhibiton of the release of melatonin following ISO stimulation. These results suggest that released 5-HT may have a role in the full expression of the beta-adrenergically induced NAT activity and, thus, may contribute to the optimal melatonin synthesis at night.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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