Pinealectomy reduces optic nerve but not intergeniculate leaflet input to the suprachiasmatic nucleus at night

J A González, R E J Dyball

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus regulates circadian rhythms in mammals. It receives, among others, direct inputs from the retina and from the thalamic intergeniculate leaflet (IGL). The former sends photic signals to the SCN, whereas the latter probably integrates photic and nonphotic information. To characterise these inputs in vivo, extracellular single-unit recordings were made from the SCN of rats under urethane anaesthesia during electrical stimulation of the optic nerve (OptN) or the IGL region. Cell responses were evaluated by creating peri-stimulus time histograms. Because humoral signals such as melatonin might modulate the activity of the SCN in addition to neural inputs, recordings were also made using pinealectomised (Px) rats to test for a possible role of this hormone in regulating inputs to the SCN. A significantly greater number of cells responded to IGL (60 of 90, 67%) than to OptN (35 of 75, 47%) stimulation in intact animals (chi(2) = 5.905, P = 0.015). The same was true when Px animals were tested (IGL, 82 of 131, 63%; OptN, 31 of 111, 28%; chi(2) = 27.637, P < 0.001). In intact animals, the proportion of cells responsive to IGL stimulation during the day and during the night was not significantly different from the proportion responsive in Px animals. The same was true for OptN stimulation during the day. However, during the night, the proportion of cells responsive to OptN stimulation in intact animals was significantly greater than the proportion responsive in Px animals (chi(2) = 7.127, P = 0.008). Our findings suggest that a lack of melatonin modulates OptN but not IGL inputs to the SCN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-53
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2005
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by a Benefactors' Scholarship from St John's College, Cambridge.


  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Geniculate Bodies
  • Light Signal Transduction
  • Male
  • Melatonin
  • Neural Pathways
  • Optic Nerve
  • Pineal Gland
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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