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Endocrinology. 2002 Jan;143(1):84-90.

Melatonin enters the cerebrospinal fluid through the pineal recess.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (6073), Université de Tours "Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements," 37380 Nouzilly, France.


The pineal recess (PR), a third ventricle (IIIV) evagination penetrating into the pineal gland, could constitute a site of melatonin passage to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and explain the high concentrations of melatonin in this fluid. To test this hypothesis, we characterized melatonin distribution in the IIIV of sheep by CSF collection in the ventral part of IIIV (vIIIV) and in PR. At 30 microl/min collection rate, melatonin concentrations were much higher in PR than in vIIIV (19,934 +/- 6,388 vs. 178 +/- 70 pg/ml, mean +/- SEM, respectively, P < 0.005), and they increased in vIIIV when CSF collection stopped in the PR (P < 0.05). At 6 microl/min, levels increased to 1,682 +/- 585 pg/ml in vIIIV and were not influenced by CSF collection in the PR. This concentration difference between sites and the influence of PR collection on vIIIV levels suggest that melatonin reaches the PR and then diffuses to the IIIV. To confirm the role of PR, we demonstrated that its surgical sealing off decreased IIIV melatonin levels (1,020 +/- 305 pg/ml, compared with 5,984 +/- 1,706 and 6,917 +/- 1,601 pg/ml in shams or animals with a failed sealing off, respectively, P < 0.01) without changes in blood levels. Therefore, this study identified the localization of the main site of penetration of melatonin into the CSF, the pineal recess.

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