Daily variation of melatonin content in the optic lobes of the crab neohelice granulata

Maciel, Fabio Everton; Geihs, Marcio Alberto; Vargas, Marcelo Alves; Cruz, Bruno Pinto; Ramos, Bianca Padovani; Vakkuri, Olli; Meyer-Rochow, Victor-Benno; Meyer, Luiz Eduardo Maia; Allodi, Silvana


Melatonin is a biogenic amine, known from almost all phyla of living organisms. In vertebrates melatonin is produced rhythmically in the pinealocytes of the pineal gland, relaying information of the environmental light/dark cycle to the organism. With regard to crustaceans only a handful of studies exist that has attempted to identify the presence and possible daily variation of this substance. We set out to investigate whether in the crab Neohelice granulata melatonin was produced in the optic lobes of these animals and underwent rhythmic fluctuations related to the daily light/dark cycle. Our experimental animals were divided into three groups exposed to different photoperiods: normal photoperiod (12L:12D), constant dark (DD), and constant light (LL). The optic lobes were collected every 4 hours over a 24-h period for melatonin quantification by radioimmunoassay (RIA). N. granulata kept under 12 L:12D and DD conditions, showed daily melatonin variations with two peaks of abundance (p < 0.05), one during the day and another, more extensive one, at night. Under LL-conditions no significant daily variations were noticeable (p > 0.05). These results demonstrate the presence of a daily biphasic fall and rise of melatonin in the eyestalk of N. granulata and suggest that continuous exposure to light inhibits the production of melatonin synthesis.

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