Enzymatic Synthesis of Melatonin in Avian Pineal Body: Extraretinal Response to Light

Science  02 Aug 1968:
Vol. 161, Issue 3840, pp. 489-490
DOI: 10.1126/science.161.3840.489


In the chick pineal body, activity of the melatonin-forming enzyme hydroxyindole-O-methyl transferase is greater in the light than in darkness. Neither bilateral enucleation of the eyes nor sympathetic denervation prevented this light-induced elevation of enzyme activity. This fact indicates that in the bird, in contrast to mammals, neither the retinas nor sympathetic innervation of the pineal body are essential for environmental control of melatonin formation.