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J Pineal Res. 2004 Apr;36(3):155-64.

Melatonin and its precursor, L-tryptophan: influence on pancreatic amylase secretion in vivo and in vitro.

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Physiology, Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum, Kraków, Poland.


Melatonin, considered as a main pineal product, may be also synthetized in the gastrointestinal tract from L-tryptophan. Melatonin has been recently shown to affect insulin release and its receptors have been characterized in the pancreas however, the effects of melatonin on the pancreatic enzyme secretion have not been examined. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of melatonin or L-tryptophan on amylase secretion in vivo in anaesthetized rats with pancreato-biliary fistulas, and in vitro using isolated pancreatic acini. Melatonin (1, 5 or 25 mg/kg) or L-tryptophan (10, 50 or 250 mg/kg) given to the rats as a intraperitoneal (i.p.) bolus injection produced significant and dose-dependent increases in pancreatic amylase secretion under basal conditions or following stimulation of enzyme secretion by diversion of bile-pancreatic juice. This was accompanied by a dose-dependent rise in melatonin plasma level. Stimulation of pancreatic enzyme secretion caused by melatonin or L-tryptophan was completely abolished by vagotomy, deactivation of sensory nerves with capsaicin or pretreatment with CCK1 receptor antagonists (tarazepide or L-364,718). Pretreatment with luzindole, an antagonist of melatonin MT(2) receptor failed to affect melatonin- or L-tryptophan-induced amylase secretion. Administration of melatonin (1, 5 or 25 mg/kg i.p.) or L-tryptophan (10, 50 or 250 mg/kg i.p.) to the rats resulted in the dose-dependent increase of cholecystokinin (CCK) plasma immunoreactivity. Enzyme secretion from isolated pancreatic acini was not significantly affected by melatonin or L-tryptophan used at doses of 10(-8) -10(-5) M. We conclude that exogenous melatonin, as well as that produced endogenously from L-tryptophan, stimulates pancreatic enzyme secretion in vivo while increasing CCK release. Stimulatory effect of melatonin or L-tryptophan on the exocrine pancreas involves vagal sensory nerves and the CCK release by these substances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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