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Endocrinology. 1999 Oct;140(10):4399-405.

High melatonin concentrations in third ventricular cerebrospinal fluid are not due to Galen vein blood recirculating through the choroid plexus.

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Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Physiologie de la Reproduction des Mammiferes Domestiques, Nouzilly, France.


Melatonin has been implicated in several neurotropic effects, but few studies have investigated the bioavailability of melatonin in the brain. The discovery of periventricular sites of action adjacent to the third ventricle forced us to investigate the dynamics of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) melatonin release and the source of this melatonin. Our first study demonstrated unequivocally that third ventricle CSF melatonin, like jugular plasma melatonin, accurately reflects the duration of the night and is rapidly suppressed by light. However, third ventricle CSF melatonin levels are 20-fold higher than nocturnal plasma concentrations. A further study showed that melatonin increased in plasma before third ventricle CSF, raising the possibility that melatonin is taken up from the blood after recirculation through the Galen vein. However, a final experiment suggested strongly that CSF melatonin is released directly into the third ventricle, as melatonin levels in the lateral ventricle were 7-fold lower than those in the third ventricle. Our study raises the possibility that there may be two compartments of melatonin affecting physiological functioning: the first in plasma acting on peripheral organs, and the second in the CSF affecting neurally mediated functions at a much higher concentration of this pineal indoleamine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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