pineal body

Endocrine system
Diagram of pituitary and pineal glands.
Latinglandula pinealis
subject #276 1277
Arterysuperior cerebellar artery
MeSH Pineal+gland
Dorlands/Elsevier g_06/12392585
The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, or epiphysis) is a small endocrine gland in the brain. It is shaped like a tiny pine cone, and is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join. It produces melatonin, a hormone that may weakly modulate wake/sleep patterns. [1]

Location

The pineal gland is a reddish-gray body about the size of a pea (8 mm in humans), located just rostro-dorsal to the superior colliculus and behind and beneath the stria medullaris, between the laterally positioned thalamic bodies. It is part of the epithalamus.

The pineal gland is a midline structure, and is often seen in plain skull X-rays, as it is often calcified.

Structure and composition

The pineal body consists in humans of a lobular parenchyma of pinealocytes surrounded by connective tissue spaces. The glands' surface is covered by a pial capsule.

The pineal gland consists mainly of pinealocytes, but four other cell types have been identified.

Cell typeDescription
pinealocytesThe pinealocytes consist of a cell body with 4-6 processes emerging. They produce and secrete melatonin. The pinealocytes can be stained by special silver impregnation methods.
interstitial cellsInterstitial cells are located between the pinealocytes.
perivascular phagocyteMany capillaries are present in the gland, and perivascular phagocytes are located close to these blood vessels. The perivascular phagocytes are antigen presenting cells.
pineal neuronsIn higher vertebrates neurons are located in the pineal gland. However, these are not present in rodents.
peptidergic neuron-like cellsIn some species, neuronal-like peptidergic cells are present. These cells might have a paracrine regulatory function.


The pineal gland receives a sympathetic innervation from the superior cervical ganglion. However, a parasympathetic innervation from the sphenopalatine and otic ganglia is also present. Further, some nerve fibers penetrate into the pineal gland via the pineal stalk (central innervation). Finally, neurons in the trigeminal ganglion innervates the gland with nerve fibers containing the neuropeptide, PACAP. Human follicles contain a variable quantity of gritty material, called corpora arenacea (or "acervuli", or "brain sand"). Chemical analysis shows that they are composed of calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium phosphate, and ammonium phosphate. [2]. Recently, calcite deposits have been described as well [3].

In lower vertebrates

Pinealocytes in lower vertebrate animals have a strong resemblance to the photoreceptor cells of the eye. Some evolutionary biologists believe that the vertebrate pineal cells share a common evolutionary ancestor with retinal cells[4].

In some vertebrates, exposure to light can set off a chain reaction of enzymes, hormones, and neuroreceptors, which may help regulate the animal's circadian rhythm[5].

In humans and other mammals, this function is served by the retinohypothalamic system that sets the rhythm within the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Cultural and social interactions produce exposures to artificial light that influence the setting of the suprachiasmatic clock. Evidence for a role for opsin-related light-sensing compounds in the skin of mammals is presently controversial. Research suggests that the pineal gland may serve a magnetoreceptive function in some animals. [6]

Some early vertebrate fossil skulls have a pineal foramen. This corroborates with the physiology of the modern lamprey, tuatara, and some other vertebrates.

Function

The pineal gland was originally believed to be a "vestigial remnant" of a larger organ (much as the appendix was thought to be a vestigial digestive organ). Aaron Lerner and colleagues at Yale University discovered that melatonin, the most potent compound then known to lighten frog skin, was present in the highest concentrations in the pineal [7]. Melatonin is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which also has other functions in the central nervous system. The production of melatonin by the pineal gland is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. [8] The retina detects the light, and directly signals and entrains the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Fibers project from the SCN to the paraventricular nuclei (PVN), which relay the circadian signals to the spinal cord and out via the sympathetic system to superior cervical ganglia (SCG), and from there into the pineal gland. The function(s) of melatonin in humans is not clear.

In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman theorized that the pineal gland may produce the psychedelic chemical DMT[1], but this has not been proven[2].

The pineal gland is large in children, but shrinks at puberty. It appears to play a major role in sexual development, hibernation in animals, metabolism, and seasonal breeding. The abundant melatonin levels in children is believed to inhibit sexual development, and pineal tumors have been linked with precocious puberty. When puberty arrives, melatonin production is reduced. Calcification of the pineal gland is typical in adults.

Pineal cytostructure seems to have evolutionary similarities to the retinal cells of chordates. [9] Modern birds and reptiles have been found to express the phototransducing pigment melanopsin in the pineal gland. Avian pineal glands are believed to act like the suprachiasmatic nucleus in mammals. [10]

Reports in rodents suggest that the pineal gland may influence the actions of drugs of abuse such as cocaine [11] and antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac)[12]; and contribute to regulation of neuronal vulnerability.[13]

Mythologies, cultures and philosophies

The secretory activity of the pineal gland has only relatively recently become understood. Historically, its location deep in the brain suggested to philosophers that it possessed particular importance. This combination led to its being a "mystery" gland with myth, superstition and metaphysical theories surrounding its perceived function.

René Descartes, who dedicated much time to the study of the pineal gland,[14] called it the "seat of the soul" [15], believing it is unique in the anatomy of the human brain in being a structure not duplicated on the right and left sides. This observation is not true, however; under a microscope one finds the pineal gland is divided into two fine hemispheres. Another theory was that the pineal operated as a valve releasing fluids, thus the position taken during deep thought, with the head slightly down meeting the hand, was an allowance for the opening of these 'valves'.

The pineal gland is occasionally associated with the sixth chakra (also called Ajna or the third eye chakra in yoga) or sometimes the Seventh (Crown) chakra. It is believed by some to be a dormant organ that can be awakened to enable telepathic communication.

The relevance of the pineal gland to Discordianism, an idiosyncratic religion with roots in California psychedelic culture whose doctrines display great fondness for paradox, is great if not well understood.

Writers such as Alice Bailey, considered an early proponent of the new age movement, use the pineal-eye as a key element in their spiritual world-view...(see Alice Bailey: "A Treatise on White Magic")

The notion of a 'pineal-eye' is also crucial to the philosophy of the seminal French writer Georges Bataille, which is analysed at length by literary scholar Denis Hollier in 'Against Architecture' (1990, trans. Betsy Wing). In this work Hollier discusses how Bataille uses the concept of a 'pineal-eye' as a reference to a blind-spot in Western rationality.

Additional images


Mesal aspect of a brain sectioned in the median sagittal plane.

Dissection showing the ventricles of the brain.

Hind- and mid-brains; postero-lateral view.

Median sagittal section of brain.


References

1. ^ Macchi M, Bruce J. "Human pineal physiology and functional significance of melatonin.". Front Neuroendocrinol 25 (3-4): 177-95. PMID 15589268. 
2. ^ Bocchi G, Valdre G (1993). "Physical, chemical, and mineralogical characterization of carbonate-hydroxyapatite concretions of the human pineal gland.". J Inorg Biochem 49 (3): 209-20. PMID 8381851. 
3. ^ Baconnier S, Lang S, Polomska M, Hilczer B, Berkovic G, Meshulam G (2002). "Calcite microcrystals in the pineal gland of the human brain: first physical and chemical studies.". Bioelectromagnetics 23 (7): 488-95. PMID 12224052. 
4. ^ Klein D (2004). "The 2004 Aschoff/Pittendrigh lecture: Theory of the origin of the pineal gland--a tale of conflict and resolution.". J Biol Rhythms 19 (4): 264-79. PMID 15245646. 
5. ^ Moore RY, Heller A, Wurtman RJ, Axelrod J. Visual pathway mediating pineal response to environmental light. Science 1967;155(759):220–3. PMID 6015532
6. ^ (Deutschlander et al.,1999)
7. ^ Lerner AB, Case JD, Takahashi Y (1960). "Isolation of melatonin and 5-methoxyindole-3-acetic acid from bovine pineal glands.". J Biol Chem 235: 1992-7. PMID 14415935. 
8. ^ Axelrod J (1970). "The pineal gland.". Endeavour 29 (108): 144-8. PMID 4195878. 
9. ^ Klein D (2004). "The 2004 Aschoff/Pittendrigh lecture: Theory of the origin of the pineal gland--a tale of conflict and resolution.". J Biol Rhythms 19 (4): 264-79. PMID 15245646. 
10. ^ Natesan A, Geetha L, Zatz M (2002). "Rhythm and soul in the avian pineal.". Cell Tissue Res 309 (1): 35-45. PMID 12111535. 
11. ^ Uz T, Akhisaroglu M, Ahmed R, Manev H (2003). "The pineal gland is critical for circadian Period1 expression in the striatum and for circadian cocaine sensitization in mice.". Neuropsychopharmacology 28 (12): 2117-23. PMID 12865893. 
12. ^ Uz T, Dimitrijevic N, Akhisaroglu M, Imbesi M, Kurtuncu M, Manev H (2004). "The pineal gland and anxiogenic-like action of fluoxetine in mice.". Neuroreport 15 (4): 691-4. PMID 15094477. 
13. ^ Manev H, Uz T, Kharlamov A, Joo J (1996). "Increased brain damage after stroke or excitotoxic seizures in melatonin-deficient rats.". FASEB J 10 (13): 1546-51. PMID 8940301. 
14. ^ Descartes and the Pineal Gland (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
15. ^ Descartes R. Treatise of Man. New York: Prometheus Books; 2003. ISBN 1-59102-090-5

External links

Latin}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Vatican City
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Regulated by: Opus Fundatum Latinitas
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The superior cerebellar artery arises near the termination of the basilar.

It passes lateralward, immediately below the oculomotor nerve, which separates it from the posterior cerebral artery, winds around the cerebral peduncle, close to the trochlear nerve, and, arriving
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1. Pineal gland 2. Pituitary gland 3. Thyroid gland 4. Thymus 5. Adrenal gland 6. Pancreas 7. Ovary 8. Testes]]

The endocrine system
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In animals, the brain or encephalon (Greek for "in the skull"), is the control center of the central nervous system, responsible for behavior. The brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing,
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cerebral hemisphere (hemispherium cerebrale) is defined as one of the two regions of the brain that are delineated by the body's median plane. The brain can thus be described as being divided into left and right cerebral hemispheres.
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The thalamus (from Greek θάλαμος = bedroom, chamber, IPA= /ˈθæləməs/) is a pair and symmetric part of the brain.
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Melatonin, 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, is a hormone found in all living creatures from algae[1] to humans, at levels that vary in a diurnal cycle.

Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors,[2]
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PEA can stand for:
  • Phenylethylamine
  • Pea plant
  • Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Pulseless electrical activity (a form of cardiac arrest)
  • Prenatal exposure to alcohol
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol Agar
  • Polyadic equality algebras (See also Cylindric algebras (CA))

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1 millimetre =
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010−3 ft 010−3 in
The millimetre (American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm
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The superior colliculus (Latin, higher hill) is a paired structure that is part of the brain's tectal area.

Structure and relations

The two superior colliculi sit below the thalamus and surround the pineal gland in the mesencephalon of vertebrate brains.
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The stria medullaris, also known as stria medullaris thalami, is a fiber bundle containing efferent fibers from the septal nuclei, lateral preoptico-hypothalmic region, and anterior thalamic nucleito the habenula. It forms a horizontal ridge on the medial surface of the thalamus.
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The thalamus (from Greek θάλαμος = bedroom, chamber, IPA= /ˈθæləməs/) is a pair and symmetric part of the brain.
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The epithalamus is a dorsal posterior segment of the diencephalon (a segment in the middle of the brain also containing the hypothalamus and the thalamus) which includes the habenula, the stria medullaris and the pineal body.
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skull is a bony structure found in many animals which serves as the general framework for the head. The skull supports the structures of the face and protects the head against injury.

The skull can be subdivided into two parts: the cranium and the mandible.
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X-rays (or Röntgen rays) are a form of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength in the range of 10 to 0.01 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 PHz to 30 EHz. X-rays are primarily used for diagnostic radiography and crystallography.
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Dystrophic Calcification (D.C.) is the mineralization of soft tissue without a systemic mineral imbalance. A systemic imbalance would elevate calcium levels in the blood and all tissues: metastatic calcification.
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Parenchyma is a term used to describe a bulk of a substance. It is used in different ways in animals and in plants.

The term is New Latin, from Greek parenkhuma, visceral flesh, from parenkhein, to pour in beside : para-, beside + en-, in + khein, to pour.
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Pinealocytes are the main cells of the pineal gland. They produce and secrete melatonin. Pinealocytes have an organelle called the synaptic ribbon; this is considered to be a specific marker for pinealocytes.
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Connective tissue is one of the four types of tissue in traditional classifications (the others being epithelial, muscle, and nervous tissue.) It is largely a category of exclusion rather than one with a precise definition, but all or most tissues in this category are similarly:
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The pia mater (Latin: "tender mother", itself a translation from Arabic) is the delicate innermost layer of the meninges - the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
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Pinealocytes are the main cells of the pineal gland. They produce and secrete melatonin. Pinealocytes have an organelle called the synaptic ribbon; this is considered to be a specific marker for pinealocytes.
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Melatonin, 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, is a hormone found in all living creatures from algae[1] to humans, at levels that vary in a diurnal cycle.

Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors,[2]
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Interstitial cells may refer to:
  • Leydig cells, cells present in the male testes
  • A portion of the stroma of ovary
  • Certain cells in the pineal gland

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A phagocyte is a cell that ingests and destroys foreign matter such as microorganisms or debris by a process known as phagocytosis.

Types of Phagocytes

There are three main categories of phagocytes: [1]
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Neurons (also known as neurones and nerve cells) are electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that process and transmit information. In vertebrate animals, neurons are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.
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Peptides (from the Greek πεπτίδια, "small digestibles") are short polymers formed from the linking, in a defined order, of α-amino acids.
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