21 March 2002
The existence of dopamine (DA)-melatonin (aMT) relationships is well documented in several brain areas of the mammalian central nervous system such as the retina and hypothalamus or the nigrostriatal system. For instance, aMT tempers 1 methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-induced nigrostriatal damage in C57BL/6 mice. In this mouse strain however, rhythmic production of aMT and its possible interaction with striatal DA is still unclear. In the present work we investigated circadian variations in pineal production of aMT and striatal DA levels in C57BL/6 mice. Effects of pinealectomy and aMT administration were also assessed. Intact, pinealectomized and pinealectomized + aMT-treated mice and their respective control groups were sacrificed at six different times during the 24-hour period. In control animals, aMT displayed a circadian rhythm with a narrow peak at midnight. The peak of aMT coincided with the nadir of the DA rhythm present in the striatum. Shortly after the decrease of DA levels, an increase in 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), the main DA metabolite, was observed. The rhythmic changes of DA and DOPAC levels in the striatum were blunted by pinealectomy, whereas administration of aMT (0.1–10 mg/kg) during 6 days to pinealectomized mice restored the rhythms in a dose-dependent manner. Striatal levels of 3-methoxytyramine and homovanillic acid did not change during the 24-hour cycle. The serotonergic system, assessed by the determination of 5-hydroxytryptamine and 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid concentration in striatum, did not show significant time-dependent changes in control animals and was not affected by pinealectomy or aMT treatment. These data substantiate the existence of a link between pineal function, melatonin secretion and DA circadian rhythm in the mouse striatum.