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Cell Tissue Res. 1990 Nov;262(2):205-16.

Immunocytochemical localization of serotonin and photoreceptor-specific proteins (rod-opsin, S-antigen) in the pineal complex of the river lamprey, Lampetra japonica, with special reference to photoneuroendocrine cells.

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Department of Physiology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan.


The pineal complex of the river lamprey, Lampetra japonica, was examined by means of immunocytochemistry with antisera against serotonin, the precursor of melatonin, and two photoreceptor proteins, rod-opsin (the apoprotein of the photopigment rhodopsin) and S-antigen. Serotonin-immunoreactive cells were observed in both the pineal and the parapineal organ. The proximal portion of the pineal organ (atrium) comprised numerous serotonin-immunoreactive cells displaying spherical somata. In the distal end-vesicle of the pineal organ, the serotonin-immunoreactive elements resembled photoreceptors in their size and shape. These cells projecting into the pineal lumen and toward the basal lamina were especially conspicuous in the ventral portion of the end-vesicle. In addition, single serotonin-immunoreactive nerve cells were found in this location. Retinal photoreceptors were never seen to contain immunoreactive serotonin; amacrine cells were the only retinal elements exhibiting serotonin immunoreaction. Strong S-antigen immunoreactivity was found in numerous photoreceptors located in the pineal end-vesicle. In contrast, the S-antigen immunoreactivity was weak in the spherical cells of the atrium. Thus, the pattern of S-antigen immunoreactivity was roughly opposite to that of serotonin. Similar findings were obtained in the parapineal organ. The rod-opsin immunoreaction was restricted to the outer segments of photoreceptors in the pineal end-vesicle and parapineal organ. No rod-opsin++ immunoreactive outer segments occurred in the proximal portion of the atrium. Double immunostaining was employed to investigate whether immunoreactive opsin and serotonin are colocalized in one and the same cell. This approach revealed that (i) most of the rod-opsin-immunoreactive outer segments in the end-vesicle belonged to serotonin-immunonegative photoreceptors; (ii) nearly all serotonin-immunoreactive cells in the end-vesicle bore short rod-opsin-immunoreactive outer segments protruding into the pineal lumen; and (iii) the spherical serotonin-immunoreactive cells in the pineal stalk lacked rod-opsin immunoreaction and an outer segment. These results support the concept that multiple cell lines of the photoreceptor type exist in the pineal complex at an early evolutionary stage.

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