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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effect of TNF-alpha on the melatonin synthetic pathway in the rat pineal gland: basis for a 'feedback' of the immune response on circadian timing.

A retino-hypothalamic-sympathetic pathway drives the nocturnal surge of pineal melatonin production that determines the synchronization of pineal function with the environmental light/dark cycle. In many studies, melatonin has been implicated in the modulation of the inflammatory response. However, scant information on the feedback action of molecules present in the blood on the pineal gland during the time course of an inflammatory response is available. Here we analyzed the effect of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and corticosterone on the transcription of the Aa-nat, hiomt and 14-3-3 protein genes in denervated pineal glands of rats stimulated for 5 hr with norepinephrine, using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The transcription of Aa-nat, a gene encoding the key enzyme in melatonin biosynthesis, together with the synthesis of the melatonin precursor N-acetylserotonin, was inhibited by TNF-alpha. This inhibition was transient, and a preincubation of TNF-alpha for more than 24 hr had no detectable effect. In fact, a protein(s) transcribed, later on, as shown by cycloheximide, was responsible for the reversal of the inhibition of Aa-nat transcription. In addition, corticosterone induced a potentiation of norepinephrine-induced Aa-nat transcription even after 48 hr of incubation. These data support the hypothesis that the nocturnal surge in melatonin is impaired at the beginning of an inflammatory response and restored either during the shutdown of an acute response or in a chronic inflammatory pathology. Here, we introduce a new molecular pathway involved in the feedback of an inflammatory response on pineal activity, and provide a molecular basis for understanding the expression of circadian timing in injured organisms.[1]


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