Immunocytochemical demonstration of rod-opsin, S-antigen, and neuron-specific proteins in the human pineal gland

Cell Tissue Res. 1992 Mar;267(3):493-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00319371.


The aim of this study was to examine whether rod-opsin and S-antigen immunoreactions were present in the pineal organ of adult man and how these immunoreactions were correlated with neuronal markers, e.g., synaptophysin, and neurofilaments L, H and M. Three perfusion-fixed epithalamic regions including the pineal organ and five pineal glands obtained at routine autopsy were used. The specimens were taken from female or male patients, 25 to 85 years of age. All immunoreactions were performed using highly specific, well-characterized antibodies. Rod-opsin and S-antigen-immunoreactive pinealocytes occurred in all pineal organs investigated; however, the immunoreaction was restricted to small subpopulations of pinealocytes (rod-opsin immunoreaction: approximately 3%-5%; S-antigen immunoreaction: approximately 5%-10% of the total population). In contrast, immunoreactions for synaptophysin and neurofilaments M and H were present in numerous pinealocytes. Immunoreactivity for neurofilament L was not found. These data suggest that the cellular composition of the human pineal organ is heterogeneous. Moreover, the presence of rod-opsin and S-antigen immunoreactions in the human pineal organ indicates that it may be affected by autoimmune retinal diseases that are provoked by antibodies against these proteins, as is the case in rodents and non-human primates.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens / analysis*
  • Arrestin
  • Autopsy
  • Eye Proteins / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Pineal Gland / chemistry*
  • Rod Opsins
  • Synaptophysin / analysis


  • Antigens
  • Arrestin
  • Eye Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Rod Opsins
  • Synaptophysin
  • neurofilament protein L
  • neurofilament protein H
  • neurofilament protein M