Skip to main content

Role de la glande pineale dans la regulation de l’axe hypothalamo-hypophyso-testiculaire

The role of the pineal gland in the regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-testicular axis


The role of the pineal gland and of its main hormone, melatonin, has not yet been clearly defined. The best known activity of the gland is antigonadal, at least in the experimental animals. In fact, the administration of melatonin or the modification of the light/darkness ratio, that is considered the most important regulatory mechanism of the melatonin-synthetic activity, leads to a gonadal regression by which all the morphological and hormonal parameters are modified. Such a mechanism is not operating in humans. However, data exist indicating a role for the pineal in this species. Our experimental data and those of the litterature indicate that the action of melatonin seems to be principally at the hypothalamic level, even though a direct action at the pituitary and gonadal levels cannot be excluded


Le rôle de la glande pinéale et de son principal produit de secrétion, la mélatonine n’a pas encore été complètement élucidé. L’activité principale de cette structure est de type antigonadique, au moins dans les espèces animales qui y sont sensibles. En effect, dans ce cas l’administration de mélatonine, ou la modification du rapport lumière/obscurité, qui est le principal mécanisme régulant la synthèse de la mélatonine, induit une régression progressive des gonades avec altération de tous les paramètres morphologiques et hormonaux. Ceci ne survient pas chez l’homme, mais toute une séries d’éléments indiquent un rôle de l’épiphyse dans l’espèce humanie. La mélatonine semble exercer ses effets au niveau de différentes structures. Même si’il est généralement accepté que sa cible principale est l’hypothalamus, on ne peut exclure une action directe aux niveaux hypophysaire et/ou testiculaire


  1. 1

    -Bartke A, Goldman BD, Bex FJ, Kelch RP, Smith MS, Dalterio S, Doherty PC. Effects of prolactin on testicular regression and recrudescence in the goiden hamster. Endocrinology, 1980, 106: 167–172.

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    -Berkowitz AS, Heindel JJ. Inhibin production by Sertoli cells during testicular regression in the Golden hamster. J. Androl., 1987, 8: 272–277.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    -Boland MP, Al-Kamali AA, Crosby TF, Haynes NB, Howles CM, Kelieher DL, Gordon I. The influence of breed, season photoperiod on semen characteristics, testicular size, libido and plasma hormone concentrations in rams. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 1985, 9: 241–252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    -Cardinali DP, Vacas MI. The role of prostaglandins in neuroendocrine junctions: studies in the pineal gland and the hypothalamus. Neuro-endocrinology, 1983, 36: 152–160.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    -Cardinali DP, Vacas MI. Cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling melatonin release by mammalian pineal glands. Cell. Mol. Neurobiol., 1987, 7: 323–337.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    -Cohen M, Roselle D, Chabner B. Evidence for a cytoplasmic melatonin receptor. Nature 1978, 274: 894–895.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    -Conte D, Falaschi P, Proietti A, D’Urso R, Citarella F, Nordio M, Romanelli F, Maggi R, Motta M, Isidori A. Role of arachidonate metabolism on the in vitro release of luteinizing hormone and prolactin from the anterior pituitary gland: possible involvement of lipoxygenase pathway. Neuroendocrinology, 1986, 43: 428–434.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    -Gaston S, Menaker M. Photoperiodic control of hamster testes. Science, 1967, 158: 925–928.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    -Glass DJ, Knotts LK. A brain site for the antigonadal action of melatonin in the white-footed mouse (Peromyseus leucopus): involvement of the immunoreactive GnRH neuronal system. Neuroendocrinology, 1986, 46: 48–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    -Jackson FL, Heindel JJ, Preslock JP, Berkowitz AS. Alterations in hypothalamic content of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone associated with pineal-mediated testicular regression in the golden hamster. Biol. Reprod., 1984, 31: 436–445.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    -Jarrige JF, Thieblot P, Boucher D. Effect of pineal gland on testosterone release in vitro. Andrologia, 1986, 18: 299–303.

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    -Lang U, Rivest RW, Schleptfer LV, Bradtke JC, Aubert ML, Sizonenko PC. Diurnal rhythm of melatonin action on sexual maturation of male rats. Neuroendocrinology, 1984, 38: 261–268.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    -Legrande E, Buhrley LE. Inhibitory effects of melatonin, prostaglandin E1, cyclic AMP, dibutyrylcyclic AMP and theophylline on rat: seminiferous tubular contractility in vitro. Biol. Reprod. 1978, 19: 217–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    -Martin JE, Engel JN, Klein DC. Inhibition of the in vitro pituitary response to luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone by melatonin, serotonin and 5-methoxytryptamine. Endocrinology, 1977, 100: 675–680.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    -Martin JE, Mc Kellar S, Klein DC. Melatonin inhibition in the in vivo pituitary response to luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone in the neonatal rat. Neuroendocrinology, 1979, 31: 13–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    -Martin JE, Mc Keel DW, Sattler C. Melatonin directly inhibits rat gonadotroph cells. Endocrinology, 1982, 110: 1079–1084.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    -Nordio M, Santana C, Guerrero JM, Reiter RJ. Effects of either phosphatydilserine or an adenosine analog on the in vitro and in vivo melatonin synthetic activity of the rat pineal gland. In: Advances in Pineal Research: 3, Reiter R.J., Pang S.F. eds., Libbey, New York, 1989, pp. 93–97.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    -Nordio M, Vaughan MK, Zisapel N, Migliaccio S, van Jaarsveld A, Reiter RJ. A novel melatonin antagonist, N-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)-5-methoxytryptamine neutralizes some effects of melatonin in the female Syrian hamster. Proc. Soc. Exper. Biol. Med., 1989, 191: 321–325.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    -Nordio M, Gandini L, Lombardo F, Lenzi A. Conte D. Melatonia e motilita’ nemaspermica: studio in vitro nell’uomo. “Giornate Andrologiche Italiane”, Catania, ottobre 1990.

  20. 20

    -Nordio M, Conte D, Nonaka KO, Reiter RJ, Isidori A. Failure to stimulate melatonin synthesis in the rat pineal gland. Psychoneuroendocrinology, in Press.

  21. 21

    -Norlund JJ, Lerner AB. The effects of oral melatonin on skin color and on the release of pituitary hormones. J. Clin. Endocrinol Metab., 1977, 45: 768–774.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    -Palazidou E, Franey C, Arendt J, Stall S, Checkley S. Evidence for a functional role of alpha-1 adrenoceptors in the regulation of melatonin secretion in man. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 1989, 14: 131–135.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    -Reiter RJ, Fraschini F. Endocrine aspects of the mammalian pineal gland: a review. Neuroendocrinology, 1969, 5: 219–255.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    -Reiter RJ, Dinh DT, De Los Santos R, Guerra JC. Hypothalamic cuts suggest a brain site for the antigonadotrophic action of melatonin in the Syrian hamster. Neurosci. Lett., 1981, 23: 315–318.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    -Reiter RJ. Photoperiod, pineal and reproduction in mammals including man. In: Comparative Physiology of Environment Adaptation: 3, Pevet P. ed, Karger, Basel, 1987, pp. 71–81.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    -Reiter RJ. Melatonin: its sources, its message, and the interpretation of the message. In: Advances in Pineal Research: 3, Reiter R.J., Pang S.F., eds., Libbey, London, 1989, pp. 165–173.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    -Romanelli F, Nordio M, Conte D, Questino P, Isidori A. Melatonin on testosterone and prostaglandin production by rat Leydig cells. In: Serono Symposia Review, Serio M. ed., 1989, p. 87.

  28. 28

    -Vacas MI, Keller-Samiento MI, Etchegoyen GS, Pereyra EN, Gimeno MF, Cardinali DP. Involvement of 5-lipoxygenase pathway in norepinephrine stimulation of rat pineal melatonin synthesis. Neuro-endocrinology, 1987, 46: 412–416.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    -van Vuuren RJ, Theron JJ, du Plessis DJ. Melatonin in human semen: possible effects on sperm motility. Chinese J. Physiol. Sci., 1988, 4: 286.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    -Withyachumnarnkul B, Limpanawattanakul M, Trakulrungsi W. Retention of radioactive substances in the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary, and reproductive organs of male rats after 3H-melatonin administration. Life Sciences 1986, 38: 1757–1765.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maurizio Nordio.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nordio, M., Conte, D., Romanelli, F. et al. Role de la glande pineale dans la regulation de l’axe hypothalamo-hypophyso-testiculaire. Androl. 1, 51–52 (1991).

Download citation

Key words

  • Pineal gland
  • melatonin
  • male reproduction
  • infertility

Mots clés

  • Epiphyse
  • Mélatonine
  • Reproduction masculine
  • Infertilité