Fluorescence and electron microscopic study of the tree shrew pineal organ

J Neural Transm. 1982;53(2-3):193-212. doi: 10.1007/BF01243411.


The fine structure of the pineal gland and the pineal innervation in the tree shrew were studied by electron microscopy and glyoxylic acid-induced fluorescence microscopy respectively. The parenchymal cells consist of pinealocytes, glial cells and pigment-containing cells. The pinealocytes are characterized by the presence of granular vesicles, synaptic ribbons, electron-dense bodies and small profiles of rER with dilated cisternae. Glial cells contain light cytoplasmic bodies, lipofuscin granules, bundles of microfilaments, and elongate profiles of rER with flattened cisternae which are often stacked together with light cytoplasmic bodies; the pigment-containing cells are unique in possessing giant pigment granules in the cytoplasm. The pinealocyte/glial cell/pigment cell in tree shrew pineals may be the same cell line of parenchymal cells at different ontogenetic stages. Pigment-containing cells contain pigment granules as a prominent cytoplasmic inclusion, suggesting they are senscent in secretory function. Both pinealocytes and glial cells contain structures suggesting secretory function such as well-developed Golgi complex and granular vesicles. The antigonadotrophic substances may be stored in granular vesicles. The present ultrastructural study supports the conclusion that tree shrew pineal organ is an endocrine gland which is heavily innervated by adrenergic nerves and possibly by cholinergic nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure
  • Organoids / ultrastructure
  • Pigments, Biological / metabolism
  • Pineal Gland / cytology
  • Pineal Gland / ultrastructure*
  • Tupaia / anatomy & histology*
  • Tupaiidae / anatomy & histology*


  • Pigments, Biological