Quantitation of ultrastructural changes in the mouse pineal in response to continuous illumination


  • This work was supported by NIH Grant HD 08759.


Adult male mice were exposed to either alternating illumination or constant illumination for 70 days. Light and dark pinealocytes were compared as to distribution within the gland and ultrastructure. Quantitative studies with the electron microscope revealed a significant reduction in pinealocyte size and Golgi complex size in constant light treatment, as well as a marked but non-significant reduction in the concentration of lipid droplets and irregular vacuoles. Under constant light treatment the cross-sectional area of pinealocyte pericapillary terminals and the number of granulated vesicles per terminal decreased significantly. A greater number of mitochondria appeared swollen, with rarified matrix and reduced numbers of cristae, with constant light treatment.

These results provide ultrastructural correlation with the known reduction of pineal weight, protein synthesis and antigonadotrophic activity that is seen with constant light treatment. The marked decrease in concentration of pinealocyte granulated vesicles in constant light treatment gives morphological support to the theory that these vesicles contain antigonadotrophic secretory material.