Immunohistochemical evidence for the presence of melatonin in the pineal gland, the retina and the Harderian gland
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The presence of melatonin is demonstrated in the pineal gland, the retina and the Harderian gland in some mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates, using a specific fluorescence labelled antibody technique. Four different potent antibodies against melatonin have been used and compared. In the pineal gland of hamsters, mice, rats and snakes, specific fluorescence, mostly restricted to the cytoplasm of the cells, is detected in pinealocytes. Fluorescence is also detected in the pineal organ of fishes, tortoises and lizards, but it has not been possible, from cryostat sections of fresh tissue, to assert which kind of cell is reacting (photoreceptor cells or interstitial ependymal cells). In the retina, fluorescence is almost exclusively restricted to the outer nuclear layer. In the Harderian gland of mammals and reptiles, fluorescence is localized in the secretory cells of the alveoli and mostly restricted to the cytoplasm surrounding the nucleus. These results are discussed in relation to the concept of melatonin synthesis at extrapineal sites independent of pineal production.
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