Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary In one of the most-widely used species in pineal gland research, the strongly photoperiodic golden hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, no electrophysiological data on pinealocytes are currently available. To fill this gap, in the present study 185 spontaneously active pinealocytes from male golden hamsters were recorded extracellularly, both during day- and night-time (light: dark cycle 12 ∶ 12, lights on at 07.00 h). As in other species, pinealocytes exhibited action potentials of 1–2 ms duration. An irregular firing pattern was observed in 95% of the pinealocytes, the remainder fired more regularly or showed a phasic discharge pattern. The firing frequencies ranged from 0.2 to 25 Hz and showed clear time-dependent differences. From 07.00 h to 22.00 h the mean firing frequencies were identical, i.e. in the range of 2 Hz; between 22.00 h and 01.00 h mean discharge rate increased to 5 Hz and exhibited a peak of 7 Hz between 01.00 h and 04.00 h, followed by a decrease to 4 Hz between 04.00 h and 07.00 h. Electrical stimulation of the superior cervical ganglion during day-time resulted in an augmentation of firing frequency in some pinealocytes and a decrease in others; during night-time, inhibitory responses only were observed. Photic stimulation, or electrical stimulation of either the optic chiasm or the habenular nuclei mostly decreased the firing rate of pinealocytes. Compared to other mammalian species, the electrophysiological properties of golden hamster pinealocytes appear to be basically similar.
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