Metabolism of Melatonin Synthesis-Related Indoles in the Turkey Pineal Organ and Its Modification by Monochromatic Light

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 21;21(24):9750. doi: 10.3390/ijms21249750.


The metabolism of pineal indoles is closely related to alterations in the light and dark phases of a daily cycle. Recent research showed important interspecies differences in the pineal biochemistry, and a strong impact of monochromatic light on many physiological processes in birds. Therefore, the aims of study were to characterize the metabolism of melatonin-synthesis indoles in the pineal organ of the domestic turkey, and to determine the changes occurring in this metabolism under the influence of different wavelengths and intensities of light. For this purpose, 3-week-old turkeys were kept under 16 lx white light, or under blue, green, and red light with intensities of 16, 32, and 64 lx during the photophase, and after 7 d were sacrificed at 4 h intervals. The activities of melatonin-synthesizing enzymes and the contents of indoles were measured in the same pineal organ. The results revealed that the activities of tryptophan hydroxylase and arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase, and the levels of all tryptophan derivatives had significant daily changes in birds kept under each light condition used. The profile of pineal indole metabolism in 4-week-old turkeys was characterized by high-amplitude rhythms in the activity of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase and the contents of N-acetylserotonin and melatonin, equal relative amounts of serotonin and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, and higher content of melatonin than N-acetylserotonin. The monochromatic light significantly modified the pineal indole metabolism, and its effects were dependent on the color and intensity of light. Pronounced changes occurred in the level of serotonin synthesis and the daily rhythm course of melatonin synthesis.

Keywords: birds; indoles; melatonin; monochromatic light; pineal organ; serotonin; turkey.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Female
  • Indoles / metabolism*
  • Indoles / radiation effects
  • Light*
  • Melatonin / biosynthesis*
  • Melatonin / radiation effects
  • Photoperiod*
  • Pineal Gland / physiology*
  • Pineal Gland / radiation effects
  • Turkeys


  • Indoles
  • Melatonin