Chemistry

A major hormone secreted by the pinealocyte is melatonin, shown in Figure 18-1. Serotonin and N-acetylse-rotonin also are important in the pineal, but they may not be secreted. Both melatonin and serotonin are derived from tryptophan, with the characteristic feature of all of these compounds being the indole ring (Figure 18-1). Other hydroxy- and methoxyindoles are present in the pinealocyte, as will be evident from the discussion of the biochemistry.

The pinealocyte may secrete a peptide, vasotocin, which may have important activities in reproductive functions and which is related in structure to oxytocin and vasopressin (Figure 4-4).

Two neurophysins have been found in the pineal gland. Neurophysins are proteins derived from the same gene product as either vasopressin or oxytocin in the hypothalamus.

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