An investigation into dopamine-melatonin interactions in the rat Corpus striatum and pineal gland : a possible pineal-striatal axis

Boyd, Clinton Shane (2000) An investigation into dopamine-melatonin interactions in the rat Corpus striatum and pineal gland : a possible pineal-striatal axis. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.




Dysfunction of central dopaminergic systems has been implicated in neuroendocrine, neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Monoamine oxidase and catechol-Omethyltransferase represent the key catabolic enzymes of dopamine, terminating neurotransmission following synaptic release of this catecholamine. Thus, both enzymes have been associated with the pathology of dopaminergic systems and represent therapeutic targets elf enormous clinical importance. Some neuroendocrine and circadian effects of melatonin have been attributed to an antidopamimetic effect of this pineal hormone in the hypothalamus and pituitary. Furthermore, both melatonin and dopamine modulate the behavioural output of the mesencephalic dopaminergic pathways of the basal ganglia, including movement disorders. However, the biochemical basis for the tonic inhibitory effect of melatonin in the nigro-striatal pathway has been poorly delineated. Thus, this study determined whether melatonin influences dopaminergic function in the corpus striatum of the Wistar rat by modulating monoamine oxidase and catecholO- methyltransferase activity. Reciprocally, the putative existence of an intrapineal dopaminergic system was investigated by determining the effect of selective dopaminergic agents, R-( -)apomorphine, haloperidol and dopamine, on indole metabolism of the pineal gland. The akinetic state of drug-induced catalepsy was employed as an animal model of Parkinson's disease to probe the neurotransmitter systems involved in the behavioural effects of melatonin. Indole metabolism was a reliable indicator of state-dependent metabolic fluxes in pineal gland function. These included a robust diurnal and seasonal variation in N-acetylserotonin and melatonin biosynthesis, and photoperiod- and drug-induced alterations of Inftabolism. The predominant changes could be attributed to an effect on serotonin N-acetyltransferase activity and/or the melatoninl5-methoxytryptophol ratio. Pineal 5-methoxyindole biosynthesis was determined primarily by the bioavailability of the corresponding 5-hydroxyindole and its affinity for hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase. Evidence was found for the negative feedback or paracrine control of pineal indole metabolism by melatonin. A high inter-individual variability was observed in the biosynthesis of N-acetylserotonin and melatonin biosynthesis, and the weight of the pineal glands. Accordingly, the rats could be classified as either high or low capacity producers of these two indoles. R-(-)-apomorphine and dopamine in vitro, but not acute haloperidol in vivo, had dose- and phase-dependent effects on pineal indole metabolism. The predominant effect was a suppression of the scotophase-dependent induction ofN-acetylserotonin and melatonin biosynthesis by dopamine and R-( -)-apomorphine. It is postulated that these agonists inhibited nocturnal N-acetyltransferase activity via postsynaptic pineal D2 or D2-like receptors. The observed modulatory nature of the intrapineal dopaminergic system suggests that dopamine may be involved in the long-term regulation of pineal indole biosynthesis. Several lines of evidence are presented that the activity of striatal monoamine oxidase A and catechol-O-methyltransferase, represented predominantly by the soluble isoform, is statedependent and regulated in vivo by endogenous melatonin. Firstly, both enzymes showed a daynight variation in activity. Secondly, acute and subchronic administration and photoperiod manipulation studies indicated that both exogenous and endogenous melatonin inhibited each enzyme in a chronotypic fashion, with a more robust effect against catechol- -methyltransferase. The intensity of the in vivo effects was critically dependent on the dose, duration, route and the phase-timing of administration during the light dark cycle, and the length of the exposure to constant light. Melatonin in vitro had no effect on basal or Mg2+ -induced catechol-Omethyltransferase activity. Thus, it is proposed that the in vivo effects of the hormone can be attributed to a time-dependent change in the amount of active molecules of this enzyme. In contrast, melatonin and numerous other endogenous indolic compounds were found to be reversible inhibitors of striatal monoamine oxidase A in vitro. Structure-activity modeling revealed that the 5-methoxy moiety on the indole nucleus and substitution of the free primary amine of these compounds were the principal determinants of the potency and time-dependency of inhibition. Thus melatonin most likely has a direct inhibitory effect in vivo at the level of the active site of monoamine oxidase A. Exogenous melatonin alone had no cataleptogenic potential whereas a variety of behavioural responses were observed following intraperitoneal administration of y-hydroxybutyrate. The latter responses were state-dependent with day-night variations in intensity. Furthermore, yhydroxybutyrate stimulated melatonin biosynthesis during the photophase both in vitro and in vivo. These results point to a possible involvement of melatonin in the behavioural and neurochemical effects of y-hydroxybutyrate. Thus the general conclusion is that dopamine and melatonin display functional antagonism at the level of the pineal gland and corpus striatum of the Wistar rats. Therefore melatonin may be an important homeostatic modulator of dopaminergic neurotransmission throu~out the central nervous system. Furthermore, the putative existence of a functional pineal-striatal axis would greatly strengthen the argument for a holistic concept of brain homeostasis. The ability of endogenous melatonin to regulate monoamine oxidase A and catechol-O-methyltransferase may represent an alternative strategy for the treatment of disorders associated with these enzymes.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pineal gland, Melatonin, Dopamine, Rats
Subjects:Q Science > QR Microbiology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
ID Code:2428
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:31 Jan 2012 08:30
Last Modified:31 Jan 2012 08:30
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