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Brain Res. 1979 Oct 5;174(2):245-62.

Pineal N-acetyltransferase and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase: control by the retinohypothalamic tract and the suprachiasmatic nucleus.


The visual pathway and central neural structures involved in the photic and endogenous regulation of the activity of pineal N-acetyltransferase and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase were investigated. The results indicate that the visual pathway regulating both enzymes is the retinohypothalamic tract, and that the inferior accessory optic tract is clearly not involved in the regulation of hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase activity, as has been previously thought. In addition, the suprachiasmatic nucleus was found to be necessary for the generation of a rhythm in N-acetyltransferase activity in blinded animals, and to be responsible for the tonic elevation of hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase activity in blinded animals. Finally, it was concluded that the rapid and large daily changes in N-acetyltransferase activity seen in a normal lighting cycle and the much slower and smaller changes in hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase activity seen only after weeks in constant lighting conditions are mediated by the same neural tract; the different time courses of the effects of environmental lighting may be explained on the basis of different intracellular regulatory mechanisms.

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