Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Pineal synaptic ribbon (SR) populations of the early posthatch white leghorn chick were counted to determine if they demonstrate a rhythm that is in accordance with the light/dark cycle. SRs were counted between day 7 and day 10 and on day 14 of posthatch development, with samples at midlight, middark (14L:10D), and constant darkness. SR populations did not exhibit significant changes on days 7 and 8 under cycled lighting conditions nor on days 9 and 10 under constant darkness. A second experiment demonstrated that the dark:light ratio of SR populations of day 14 chicks, under cycled lighting, was 3.4:1.0, indicating SR rhythmicity by that stage of development. In that a preliminary experiment had demonstrated a 4.2:1.0 darklight ratio in SR populations in a predominantly day-10 population of chicks, we believe that SR rhythmicity begins on, or near, day 10 of posthatch development. To determine if the invasion of sympathetic fibers from the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) correlates with the initiation of SR light/dark population differences, we employed tyrosine hydroxylase immunofluorescence to reveal the distribution of catecholaminergic fibers in chick pineal follicles Follicular innervation doubled over the day 7 to day 14 period, during which time light/dark differences in SR populations were established. There is a correlation, in time, between the invasion of the pineal by the sympathetic fibers and the initiation of SR light/dark differences. The circadian rhythm of pineal N-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity, the rate-limiting enzyme in the melatonin pathway, is established earlier (day 2) than the light/dark differences in SR populations (day 10). It is possible that SR rhythmicity is influenced by the ingrowth of the pineal sympathetic innervation, and that SRs respond to an extrapineal oscillator rather than the independent oscillators of the chick pineal responsible for the rhythm of NAT activity and melatonin synthesis.
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