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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Jan 25;186(2):169-73.

Perinatal neuroendocrine regulation. Development of the circadian time-keeping system.

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Departamento de Ciencias Fisiológicas, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 114-D, Santiago, Chile.


During gestation, the perinatal neuroendocrine axis keeps clock time. In primates, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (biological clock in mammals), shows oscillatory function by midgestation. There is evidence in rodents that the mother, during pregnancy, entrains the fetal suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and newborn circadian rhythms. We are investigating the role of maternal melatonin as an entraining signal for the newborn circadian time-keeping system in the Cebus apella (New World non-human primate). Twenty-four hour rhythms of temperature and cortisol are present in the 4 days old C. apella newborn. Preliminary data suggests that inhibition of maternal melatonin by exposing pregnant females to constant light alters these rhythms. We have found binding sites for melatonin and expression of mRNA for Mel 1A receptor in hypothalamus, kidney and testis. These preliminary results suggest that maternal melatonin may play a role in relating the perinatal circadian time-keeping system to environmental signals.

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