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Rhythmic control of endocannabinoids in the rat pineal gland

: Koch, M.; Ferreirós, N.; Geisslinger, G.; Dehghani, F.; Korf, H.-W.


Chronobiology international 32 (2015), Nr.6, S.869-874
ISSN: 0742-0528 (print)
ISSN: 1525-6073 (online)
Fraunhofer IME ()

Endocannabinoids modulate neuroendocrine networks by directly targeting cannabinoid receptors. The time-hormone melatonin synchronizes these networks with external light condition and guarantees time-sensitive and ecologically well-adapted behaviors. Here, the endocannabinoid arachidonoyl ethanolamide (AEA) showed rhythmic changes in rat pineal glands with higher levels during the light-period and reduced amounts at the onset of darkness. Norepinephrine, the essential stimulus for nocturnal melatonin biosynthesis, acutely down-regulated AEA and other endocannabinoids in cultured pineal glands. These temporal dynamics suggest that AEA exerts time-dependent autocrine and/or paracrine functions within the pineal. Moreover, endocananbinoids may be released from the pineal into the CSF or blood stream.