Estrogen modulates alpha(1)/beta-adrenoceptor- induced signaling and melatonin production in female rat pinealocytes

Neuroendocrinology. 2001 Feb;73(2):111-22. doi: 10.1159/000054627.


Nocturnal rise in pineal melatonin output is due to the night-induced acceleration of noradrenergic transmission and alpha(1)- and beta-adrenoceptor activation. In addition, in female animals, cyclic oscillations in circulating levels of sex steroid hormones are accompanied by changes in the rate of pineal melatonin secretion. To investigate whether estrogen directly affects pineal adrenoceptor responsiveness, pinealocytes from 21-day-old ovariectomized rats were exposed to physiological concentrations of 17beta-estradiol (17beta-E(2)) and treated with noradrenergic agonists. Direct exposure to 17beta-E(2) reduced alpha(1)/beta-adrenoceptor-induced stimulation of melatonin synthesis and release. This effect was mediated by an estrogen-dependent inhibition of both beta-adrenoceptor-induced accumulation of cAMP and alpha(1)-adrenoceptor-induced phosphoinositide hydrolysis. Furthermore, estrogen reduced transient Ca(2+) signals elicited in single pinealocytes by alpha(1)-adrenoceptor activation or by potassium-induced depolarization. In the case of beta-adrenoceptor responsiveness, neither forskolin- nor cholera toxin-induced accumulation of cAMP were affected by previous exposure to 17beta-E(2). This indicates that estrogen effects must be exerted upstream from adenylylcyclase activation, and independent of modifications in G protein expression, therefore suggesting changes in either adrenoceptor expression or receptor-effector coupling mechanisms. Since estrogen effects upon adrenoceptor responsiveness in pineal cells was not mimicked by 17beta-E(2) coupled to bovine serum albumin and showed a latency of 48 h, this effect could be compatible with a genomic action mechanism. This is also consistent with the presence of two estrogen receptor proteins, alpha- and beta-subtypes, in female rat pinealocytes under the present experimental conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cholera Toxin / pharmacology
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrolysis
  • Melatonin / biosynthesis*
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Ovariectomy
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • Pineal Gland / chemistry
  • Pineal Gland / drug effects*
  • Pineal Gland / physiology
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / physiology*
  • Receptors, Estradiol / analysis
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Receptors, Estradiol
  • Colforsin
  • Estradiol
  • Cholera Toxin
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • Melatonin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium