Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
A variety of reports indicate that some kind of interaction may exist between the pineal gland and cations. Of particular interest are the reports that indicate comparatively high levels of copper, manganese, and zinc in the pineal gland and that the pineal gland exhibits a circadian rhythm in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. There are, unfortunately, no reports suggesting a functional role for these findings. This study investigated circadian rhythms in circulating plasma cations in rats under 12/12 h light-dark cycle and in rats whose pineal function had been suppressed by exposure to constant light for 1 and 7 days. Neither of the treatments affected circulating potassium levels but had some significant effects on sodium concentration at a number of time points without affecting the total amount of sodium circulating in a 24 h period. Calcium, magnesium, and zinc plasma concentrations were little affected by 1 day of constant light, while 7 days of constant light caused a dramatic and highly significant increase in the circulating levels of the three cations. The plasma levels of copper, on the other hand, while also being unaffected by 1 day were significantly depressed by 7 days of constant light. It is apparent, therefore, that the pineal gland may be involved in regulation of circulating levels of the cations measured. The functional significance of these observations is not clear at this stage but warrants further investigation.
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