[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nonvisual pineal and retinal photoreceptors are synchronizing circadian and circannual periodicity to the environmental light periods in the function of various organs. Melatonin of the pineal organ is secreted at night and represents an important factor of this periodic regulation. Night illumination suppressing melatonin secretion may result in pathological events like breast and colorectal cancer. Experimental works demonstrated the role of autonomic nerves in the pineal melatonin secretion. It was supposed that mammalian pineals have lost their photoreceptor capacity that is present in submammalians, and sympathetic fibers would mediate light information from the retina to regulate melatonin secretion. Retinal afferentation may reach the organ by central nerve fibers via the pineal habenulae as well. In our earlier works we have found that the pineal organ developing from lobular evaginations of the epithalamus differs from peripheral endocrine glands and is composed of a retina-like central nervous tissue that is comprised of cone-like pinealocytes, secondary pineal neurons and glial cells. Their autonomic nerves in submammalians as well as in mammalian animals do not terminate on pineal cells, rather, they run in the meningeal septa among pineal lobules and form vasomotor nerve endings. Concerning the adult human pineal there are no detailed fine structural data about the termination of autonomic fibers, therefore, in the present work we investigated the ultrastructure of the human pineal peripheral autonomic nerve fibers. It was found, that similarly to other parts of the brain, autonomic nerves do not enter the human pineal nervous tissue itself but separated by glial limiting membranes take their course in the meningeal septa of the organ and terminate on vessels by vasomotor endings. We suppose that these autonomic vasomotor nerves serve the regulation of the pineal blood supply according to the circadian and circannual changes of the metabolic activity of the organ and support by this effect the secretion of pineal neurohormones including melatonin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In mammals, each cone had been thought to contain only one single type of photopigment. It was not until the early 1990s that photopigment coexpression was reported. In the house mouse, the distribution of color cones shows a characteristic division. Whereas in the upper retinal field the ratio of short wave to middle-to-long wave cones falls in the usual range (1:10), in the ventral retinal field M/L-pigment expression is completely missing. In the transitional zone, numerous dual cones are detectable (spatial coexpression). In other species without retinal division, dual cones appear during development, suggesting that M/L-cones develop from S-cones. Dual elements represent a transitory stage in M/L-cone differentiation that disappear with maturation (transitory coexpression). These two phenomena seem to be mutually exclusive in the species studied so far. In the comparative part of this report the retinal cone distribution of eight rodent species is reported. In two species dual cones appear in adult specimens without retinal division, and dual elements either occupy the dorsal peripheral retina, or make up the entire cone population. This is the first observation proving that all cones of a retina are of dual nature. These species are good models for the study of molecular control of opsin expression and renders them suitable sources of dual cones for investigations on the role and neural connections of this peculiar cone type. In the developmental part, the retinal maturation of other species is examined to test the hypothesis of transitory coexpression. In these species S-pigment expression precedes that of the M/L-pigment, but dual cones are either identified in a small number or they are completely missing from the developing retina. These results exclude a common mechanism for M/L-cone maturation: they either transdifferentiate from S-cones or develop independently.
Histology and histopathology 05/2005; 20(2):551-74. · 2.10 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In earlier works we have found that in the mammalian pineal organ, a part of autonomic nerves--generally thought to mediate light information from the retina--form vasomotor endings on smooth muscle cells of vessels. We supposed that they serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in the metabolic activity of the pineal tissue. In the present work, we investigated whether peripheral nerves present in the photoreceptive pineal organs of submammalians form similar terminals on microvessels. In the cyclostome, fish, amphibian, reptile and bird species investigated, autonomic nerves accompany vessels entering the arachnoidal capsule and interfollicular meningeal septa of the pineal organ. The autonomic nerves do not enter the pineal tissue proper but remain in the perivasal meningeal septa isolated by basal lamina. They are composed of unmyelinated and myelinated fibers and form terminals around arterioles, veins and capillaries. The terminals contain synaptic and granular vesicles. Comparing various vertebrates, more perivasal terminals were found in reptiles and birds than in the cyclostome, fish and amphibian pineal organs. Earlier, autonomic nerves of the pineal organs were predominantly investigated in connection with the innervation of pineal tissue. The perivasal terminals found in various submammalians show that a part of the pineal autonomic fibers are vasomotoric in nature, but the vasosensor function of some fibers cannot be excluded. We suppose that the vasomotor regulation of the pineal microvessels in the photosensory submamalian pineal--like in mammals--may serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in the metabolic activity of the pineal tissue. The higher number of perivasal terminals in reptiles and birds may correspond to the higher metabolic activity of the tissues in more differentiated species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent investigations confirm the importance of nonsynaptic signal transmission in several functions of the nervous tissue. Present in various periventricular brain regions of vertebrates, the system of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons seems to have a special role in taking up, transforming and emitting nonsynaptic signals mediated by the internal and external CSF and intercellular fluid of the brain. Most of the CSF-contacting nerve cells send dendritic processes into the internal CSF of the brain ventricles or central canal where they form terminals bearing stereocilia and a 9+0-, or 9+2-type cilium. Some of these neurons resemble known sensory cells of chemoreceptor-type, others may be sensitive to the pressure or flow of the CSF, or to the illumination of the brain tissue. The axons of the CSF-contacting neurons transmit information taken up by dendrites and perikarya to synaptic zones of various brain areas. By forming neurohormonal terminals, axons also contact the external CSF space and release various bioactive substances there. Some perikarya send their axons into the internal CSF, and form free endings there, or synapses on intraventricular dendrites, perikarya and/or on the ventricular surface of ependymal cells. Contacting the intercellular space, sensory-type cilia were also demonstrated on nerve cells situated in the brain tissue subependymally or farther away from the ventricles. Among neuronal elements entering the internal CSF-space, the hypothalamic CSF-contacting neurons are present in the magnocellular and parvicellular nuclei and in some circumventricular organs like the paraventricular organ and the vascular sac. The CSF-contacting dendrites of all these areas bear a solitary 9 x 2+0-type cilium and resemble chemoreceptors cytologically. In electrophysiological experiments, the neurons of the paraventricular organ are highly sensitive to the composition of the ventricular CSF. The axons of the CSF-contacting neurons terminate not only in the hypothalamic synaptic zones but also in tel-, mes- and rhombencephalic nuclei and reach the spinal cord as well. The supposed chemical information taken up by the CSF-contacting neurons from the ventricular CSF may influence the function of these areas of the central nervous system. Some nerve cells of the photoreceptor areas form sensory terminals similar to those of the hypothalamic CSF-contacting neurons. Special secondary neurons of the retina and pineal organ contact the retinal photoreceptor space and pineal recess respectively, both cavities being embryologically derived from the 3rd ventricle. The composition of these photoreceptor spaces is important in the photochemical transduction and may modify the activity of the secondary neurons. Septal and preoptic CSF-contacting neurons contain various opsins and other compounds of the phototransduction cascade and represent deep encephalic photoreceptors detecting the illumination of the brain tissue and play a role in the regulation of circadian and reproductive responses to light. The medullo-spinal CSF-contacting neurons present in the oblongate medulla, spinal cord and terminal filum, send their dendrites into the fourth ventricle and central canal. Resembling mechanoreceptors of the lateral line organ, the spinal CSF-contacting neurons may be sensitive to the pressure or flow of the CSF. The axons of these neurons terminate at the external CSF-space of the oblongate medulla and spinal cord and form neurohormonal nerve endings. Based on information taken up from the CSF, a regulatory effect on the production or composition of CSF was supposed for bioactive materials released by these terminals. Most of the axons of the medullospinal CSF-contacting neurons and the magno- and parvicellular neurosecretory nuclei running to neurohemal areas (neurohypophysis, median eminence, terminal lamina, vascular sac and urophysis) do not terminate directly on vessels, instead they form neurohormonal nerve terminals attached by half-desmosomes on the basal lamina of the external and vascular surface of the brain tissue. Therefore, the bioactive materials released from these terminals primarily enter the external CSF and secondarily, by diffusion into vessels and the composition of the external CSF, may have a modulatory effect on the bioactive substances released by the neurohormonal terminals. Contacting the intercellular space, sensory-type cilia were also demonstrated on nerve cells situated subependymally or farther away from the ventricles, among others in the neurosecretory nuclei. Since tight-junctions are lacking between ependymal cells of the ventricular wall, not only CSF-contacting but also subependymal ciliated neurons may be influenced by the actual composition of the CSF besides that of the intercellular fluid of the brain tissue. According to the comparative histological data summarised in this review, the ventricular CSF-contacting neurons represent the phylogenetically oldest component detecting the internal fluid milieu of the brain. The neurohormonal terminals on the external surface of the brain equally represent an ancient form of nonsynaptic signal transmission.
Histology and histopathology 05/2004; 19(2):607-28. · 2.10 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: THE CIRCUMVENTRICULAR ORGANS are specially organized areas in the wall of the brain ventricles. The close contact of their cells to the internal and external cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces supports the hypothesis that their function is connected to the maintenance of the homeostasis of these fluids. The neurons of the subfornical organ, and area postrema send receptor dendrites to the perivascular surface of the nervous tissue and may perceive the composition of the perivasal fluid. Some of the circumventricular organs form neurohormonal release areas similar to those of the neurohypophysis, the lack of blood-brain barrier in these areas primarily serves the hormone release. The CSF-contacting neurons of the paraventricular organ form dendritic terminals in the third ventricle and are supposed to be chemoreceptors. Similar neurons in the lateral septal organ and preoptic recess of submammalians contain opsins and represent the deep brain photoreceptors detecting the illumination of the CSF and influence photoperiodicity. CSF-contacting neurons around the central canal show cytologic similarity to known mechanoreceptors and are supposed to perceive the flow or pressure of the CSF. Neurons sending a sensory cilium into the intercellular space may perceive the chemical composition of the intercellular fluid that is important in the metabolism and non-synaptic signal transmission of the brain. The subcommisural organ contains special ependymal cells secreting the Reissner's fiber which extends into the mesencephalic aqueduct, fourth ventricle and central canal. The fiber may help the supposed mechanoreceptive task of the spinal CSF-contacting neurons and seems to be involved in the pathogenesis of hydrocephalus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The significance of autonomic nerves reaching the pincal organ was already investigated in connection to the innervation of pinealocytes and mediating light information from the retina for periodic melatonin secretion. In earlier works we found that some autonomic nerve fibers are not secretomotor but terminate on arteriolar smooth muscle cells in the pineal organ of the mink (Mustela vison). Studying in serial sections the pineal organ of the mink and 15 other mammalian species in the present work, we investigated whether similar axons of vasomotor-type are generally present in the wall of pineal vessels, further, whether they reach the organ via the conarian nerves or via periarterial plexuses. In all species investigated, axons of perivasal nerve bundles were found to form terminal enlargements on the smooth muscle layer of pineal arterioles. The neuromuscular endings contain several synaptic and some granular vesicles. Axon terminals are also present around pineal veins. In serial sections, we found that the so-called conarian autonomic nerves reach the pineal organ alongside pineal veins draining into the great internal cerebral vein. Similar nerves present near arteries of the arachnoid enter the pineal meningeal capsule and septa by arterioles, both perivenous and periarterial nerves form terminals of vasomotor-type. The arteriomotor and venomotor regulation of the tone of the vessels of the pineal organ may serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in metabolic activity of the pineal tissue.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons are sensory-type cells sending ciliated dendritic process into the CSF. Some of the prosencephalic CSF-contacting neurons of higher vertebrates were postulated to be chemoreceptors detecting the chemical composition of the CSF, other cells may percieve light as "deep encephalic photoreceptors". In our earlier works, CSF-contacting neurons of the mechanoreceptor-type were described around the central canal of the hagfish spinal cord. It was supposed that perceiving the flow of the CSF they are involved in vasoregulatory mechanisms of the nervous tissue. In the present work, we examined the brain ventricular system of the Atlantic hagfish with special reference to the presence and fine structure of CSF-contacting neurons. Myxinoids have an ontogenetically reduced brain ventricular system. In the adult hagfish (Myxine glutinosa) the lumen of the lateral ventricle is closed, the third ventricle has a preoptic-, infundibular and subhabenular part that are not connected to each other. The choroid plexus is absent. The infundibular part of the third ventricle has a medial hypophyseal recess and, more caudally, a paired lateral recess. We found CSF-contacting neurons in the lower part of the third ventricle, in the preoptic and infundibular recess as well as in the lateral infundibular recesses. No CSF-contacting neurons were found in the cerebral aqueduct connecting the subhabenular recess to the fourth ventricle. There is a pineal recess and a well-developed subcommissural organ at the rostral end of the aqueduct. Extending from the caudal part of the fourth ventricle in the medulla to the caudal end of the spinal cord, the central canal has a dorsal and ventral part. Dendrites of CSF-contacting neurons are protruding into the ventral lumen. Corroborating the supposed choroid plexus-like function of the wall of the dorsal central canal, segmental vessels reach a thin area on both sides of the ependymal lining. The perikarya of the CSF-contacting neurons found in the brain ventricles are mainly bipolar and contain granular vesicles of various size. The bulb-like terminal of their ventricular dendrites bears several stereocilia and contains basal bodies as well as mitochondria. Basal bodies emit cilia of the 9+0-type. Cilia may arise from the basal body and accessory basal body as well. The axons run ependymofugally and enter--partially cross--the periventricular synaptic zones. No neurohemal terminals similar to those formed by spinal CSF-contacting neurons of higher vertebrates have been found in the hagfish. We suppose that CSF-contacting neurons transform CSF-mediated non-synaptic information taken up by their ventricular dendrites to synaptic one. A light-sensitive role for some (preoptic?) groups of CSF-contacting neurons cannot be excluded.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To decide whether the identical topography of short- and middle-wavelength cone photoreceptors in two species of rodents reflects the presence of both opsins in all cone cells.
Double-label immunocytochemistry using antibodies directed against short-wavelength (S)-and middle- to long-wavelength (M/L)-sensitive opsin were used to determine the presence of visual pigments in cones of two species of rodents, the Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) and the pouched mouse (Saccostomus campestris) from South Africa. Topographical distribution was determined from retinal whole-mounts, and the colocalization of visual pigments was examined using confocal laser scanning microscopy. Opsin colocalization was also confirmed in consecutive semithin tangential sections.
The immunocytochemical results demonstrate that in both the Siberian hamster and the pouched mouse all retinal cones contain two visual pigments. No dorsoventral gradient in the differential expression of the two opsins is observed.
The retina of the Siberian hamster and the pouched mouse is the first example to show a uniform coexpression of M and S cone opsins in all cones, without any topographical gradient in opsin expression. This finding makes these two species good models for the study of molecular control mechanisms in opsin coexpression in rodents, and renders them suitable as sources of dual cones for future investigations on the role and neural connections of this cone type.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of the nonvisual photoreception is to synchronise periodic functions of living organisms to the environmental light periods in order to help survival of various species in different biotopes. In vertebrates, the so-called deep brain (septal and hypothalamic) photoreceptors, the pineal organs (pineal- and parapineal organs, frontal- and parietal eye) and the retina (of the "lateral" eye) are involved in the light-based entrain of endogenous circadian clocks present in various organs. In humans, photoperiodicity was studied in connection with sleep disturbances in shift work, seasonal depression, and in jet-lag of transmeridional travellers. In the present review, experimental and molecular aspects are discussed, focusing on the histological and histochemical basis of the function of nonvisual photoreceptors. We also offer a view about functional changes of these photoreceptors during pre- and postnatal development as well as about its possible evolution. Our scope in some points is different from the generally accepted views on the nonvisual photoreceptive systems. The deep brain photoreceptors are hypothalamic and septal nuclei of the periventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neuronal system. Already present in the lancelet and representing the most ancient type of vertebrate nerve cells ("protoneurons"), CSF-contacting neurons are sensory-type cells sitting in the wall of the brain ventricles that send a ciliated dendritic process into the CSF. Various opsins and other members of the phototransduction cascade have been demonstrated in telencephalic and hypothalamic groups of these neurons. In all species examined so far, deep brain photoreceptors play a role in the circadian and circannual regulation of periodic functions. Mainly called pineal "glands" in the last decades, the pineal organs actually represent a differentiated form of encephalic photoreceptors. Supposed to be intra- and extracranially outgrown groups of deep brain photoreceptors, pineal organs also contain neurons and glial elements. Extracranial pineal organs of submammalians are cone-dominated photoreceptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light, while intracranial pineal organs predominantly contain rod-like photoreceptor cells and thus scotopic light receptors. Vitamin B-based light-sensitive cryptochromes localized immunocytochemically in some pineal cells may take part in both the photoreception and the pacemaker function of the pineal organ. In spite of expressing phototransduction cascade molecules and forming outer segment-like cilia in some species, the mammalian pineal is considered by most of the authors as a light-insensitive organ. Expression of phototransduction cascade molecules, predominantly in young animals, is a photoreceptor-like characteristic of pinealocytes in higher vertebrates that may contribute to a light-percepting task in the perinatal entrainment of rhythmic functions. In adult mammals, adrenergic nerves--mediating daily fluctuation of sympathetic activity rather than retinal light information as generally supposed--may sustain circadian periodicity already entrained by light perinatally. Altogether three phases were supposed to exist in pineal entrainment of internal pacemakers: an embryological synchronization by light and in viviparous vertebrates by maternal effects (1); a light-based, postnatal entrainment (2); and in adults, a maintenance of periodicity by daily sympathetic rhythm of the hypothalamus. In addition to its visual function, the lateral eye retina performs a nonvisual task. Nonvisual retinal light perception primarily entrains genetically-determined periodicity, such as rod-cone dominance, EEG rhythms or retinomotor movements. It also influences the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the primary pacemaker of the brain. As neither rods nor cones seem to represent the nonvisual retinal photoreceptors, the presence of additional photoreceptors has been supposed. Cryptochrome 1, a photosensitive molecule identified in retinal nerve cells and in a subpopulation of retinal photoreceptors, is a good candidate for the nonvisual photoreceptor molecule as well as for a member of pacemaker molecules in the retina. When comparing various visual and nonvisual photoreceptors, transitory, "semi visual" (directional) light-perceptive cells can be detected among them, such as those in the parietal eye of reptiles. Measuring diffuse light intensity of the environment, semivisual photoreceptors also possess some directional light perceptive capacity aided by complementary lens-like structures, and screening pigment cells. Semivisual photoreception in aquatic animals may serve for identifying environmental areas of suitable illumination, or in poikilotermic terrestrial species for measuring direct solar irradiation for thermoregulation. As directional photoreceptors were identified among nonvisual light perceptive cells in the lancelet, but eyes are lacking, an early appearance of semivisual function, prior to a visual one (nonvisual --> semivisual --> visual?) in the vertebrate evolution was supposed.
Histology and histopathology 04/2002; 17(2):555-90. · 2.10 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phylogenetically originated from photoreceptive structures, the pineal organ adapts the organism to circadian and circannual light periodicity of the environment, while the retina develops to a light-based locator. Bats have a nocturnal life and an echolocator orientation presumably modifying the task of photoreception. Looking for morphological basis of the special functions, in the present work we compared the fine structure and immunocytochemistry of the retina and pineal organ in micro- and megacrochiroptean bats. We found that there is a high similarity between the retina and pineal organ in megachiropterans when compared to other species investigated so far. Besides of photoreceptor derived pinealocytes, the pineal organ of both micro- and megachiropterans contain intrapineal neurons and/or ganglionic cells as well as glial cells. Like spherules and pedicles of retinal photoreceptors, axon-type processes of pinealocytes form synaptic ribbon containig terminals. Similar to retinal photoreceptors and neurons, pinealocytes and pineal neurons contain immunoreactive glutamate and aspartate. In addition, excitatory amino acids accumulate in the pineal neurohormonal endings and might have a role in the hormonal (serotonin?) release of the organ. Concerning the structure of the retina the highest similarity to the organization of the pineal organ was found in the megachiroptean fruit eating bats Cynopterus sphinx and Rusettus niloticus. The retina of these species forms folds and crypts in its photoreceptor layer. This organization is similar to the folds of the pineal wall successively developed during evolution. Since a folded photoreceptor layer is not viable for a photolocator screen in decoding two-dimensional images, we suppose that this peculiar organization of the megachiropteran retina is connected to a "pineal-like" photometer task of the eye needed by these species active at night.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most simple pineal complex (the pineal and parapineal organs of lampreys), consists of saccular evaginations of the diencephalic roof, and has a retina-like structure containing photoreceptor cells and secondary neurons. In more differentiated vertebrates, the successive folding of the pineal wall multiplies the cells and reduces the lumen of the organ, but the pattern of the histological organization remains similar to that of lampreys; therefore, we consider the histological structure of the pineal organ of higher vertebrates as a 'folded retina'. The cell membrane of several pineal photoreceptor outer-segments of vertebrates immunoreact with anti-retinal opsin antibodies supporting the view of retina-like organization of the pineal. Some other pineal outer segments do not react with retinal anti-opsin antibodies, a result suggesting the presence of special pineal photopigments in different types of pinealocytes that obviously developed during evolution. The chicken pinopsin, detected in the last years, may represent one of these unknown photopigments. Using antibodies against chicken pinopsin, we compared the immunoreactivity of different photoreceptors of the pineal organs from cyclostomes to birds at the light and electron microscopic levels. We found pinopsin immunoreaction on all pinealocytes of birds and on the rhodopsin-negative large reptilian pinealocytes. As the pinopsin has an absorption maximum at 470 nm, these avian and reptilian immunoreactive pinealocytes can be regarded as green-blue light-sensitive photoreceptors. Only a weak immunoreaction was observed on the frog and fish pinealocytes and no reaction was seen in cyclostomes and in the frontal organ of reptiles. Some photoreceptors of the retina of various species also reacted the pinopsin antibodies, therefore, pinopsin must have certain sequential similarity to individual retinal opsins of some vertebrates.
Biology of the Cell 01/1999; 90(9):653-9. DOI:10.1016/S0248-4900(99)80022-7 · 3.51 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pineal organ (pineal gland, epiphysis cerebri) contains several calcified concretions called "brain sand" or acervuli (corpora arenacea). These concretions are conspicuous with imaging techniques and provide a useful landmark for orientation in the diagnosis of intracranial diseases. Predominantly composed of calcium and magnesium salts, corpora arenacea are numerous in old patients. In smaller number they can be present in children as well. The degree of calcification was associated to various diseases. However, the presence of calcified concretions seems not to reflect a specific pathological state. Corpora arenacea occur not only in the actual pineal tissue but also in the leptomeninges, in the habenular commissure and in the choroid plexus. Studies with the potassium pyroantimonate (PPA) method on the ultrastructural localization of free calcium ions in the human pineal, revealed the presence of calcium alongside the cell membranes, a finding that underlines the importance of membrane functions in the production of calcium deposits. Intrapineal corpora arenacea are characterized by a surface with globular structures. Meningeal acervuli that are present in the arachnoid cover of the organ, differ in structure from intrapineal ones and show a prominent concentric lamination of alternating dark and light lines. The electron-lucent lines contain more calcium than the dark ones. There is a correlation between the age of the subject and the number of layers in the largest acervuli. This suggests that the formation of these layers is connected to circannual changes in the calcium level of the organ. The histological organization of the human pineal is basically the same as that of mammalian experimental animals. Pineal concretions present in mammalian animal species are mainly of the meningeal type. Meningeal cells around acervuli contain active cytoplasmic organelles and exhibit alkaline phosphatase reaction in the rat and mink, an indication of a presumable osteoblast-like activity. Using Kossa's method for the staining of calcium deposits, a higher calcium concentration was detected in the rat pineal than in the surrounding brain tissue. Since in parathyroidectomised rats calcified deposits are larger and more numerous than in controls, the regulation of the production of acervuli by the parathyroid gland has also been postulated. In most of submammalian species, the pineal organs (pineal-, parapineal organ, frontal organ, parietal eye) are photoreceptive and organized similarly to the retina. Acervuli were found in the pineal of some birds. The pineal organs of lower vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles) exhibit a high calcium content by ultrastructural calcium histochemistry (PPA-method). However, concrements are not formed. The accumulation of Ca2+ seems to depend on the receptor function of the organ. Comparing pineal and retinal photoreceptors in the frog, the photoreceptor outer segments of pinealocytes as well as retinal cones and rods show a large amount of Capyroantimonate deposits. In dark adapted animals calcium ions are present in both sides of the photoreceptor membranes of the outer segment, whereas calcium is shifted extra-cellularly following light adaptation. Overviewing the data available about the pineal calcification, we can conclude that a multifactorial mechanism may be responsible for the calcification. The pineal of higher vertebrates is not just a simple endocrine gland, rather, its histological organization resembles a folded retina having both hormonal and neural efferentation. Mammalian pinealocytes preserve several characteristics of submammalian receptor cells and accumulate free Ca2+ on their membranes (1). In the thin walled retina and in the similarly organized pineal of submammalian species, the diffusion of extracellular calcium is probably easy and there is a lesser tendency to form concrements. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)
Histology and histopathology 08/1998; 13(3):851-70. · 2.10 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons form a part of the circumventricular organs of the central nervous system. Represented by different cytologic types and located in different regions, they constitute a CSF-contacting neuronal system, the most central periventricular ring of neurons in the brain organized concentrically according to our concept. Because the central nervous system of deuterostomian echinoderm starfishes and the prochordate lancelet is composed mainly of CSF-contacting-like neurons, we hypothesize that this cell type represents ancient cells, or protoneurons, in the vertebrate brain. Neurons may contact the ventricular CSF via their dendrites, axons, or perikarya. Most of the CSF-contacting nerve cells send their dendritic processes into the ventricular cavity, where they form ciliated terminals. These ciliated endings resemble those of known sensory cells. By means of axons, the CSF-contacting neurons also may contact the external CSF space, where the axons form terminals of neurohormonal type similar to those known in the neurohemal areas. The most simple CSF-contacting neurons of vertebrates are present in the terminal filum, spinal cord, and oblongate medulla. The dendritic pole of these medullospinal CSF-contacting neurons terminates with an enlargement bearing many stereocilia in the central canal. These cells are also supplied with a 9 x 2 + 2 kinocilium that may contact Reissner's fiber, the condensed secretory material of the subcommissural organ. The Reissner's fiber floating freely in the CSF leaves the central canal at the caudal open end of the terminal filum in lower vertebrates, and open communication is thus established between internal CSF and the surrounding tissue spaces. Resembling mechanoreceptors cytologically, the spinal CSF-contacting neurons send their axons to the outer surface of the spinal cord to form neurosecretory-type terminals. They also send collaterals to local neurons and to higher spinal segments. In the hypothalamic part of the diencephalon, neurons of two circumventricular organs, the paraventricular organ and the vascular sac, of the magnocellular neurosecretory nuclei and several parvocellular nuclei, form CSF-contacting dendritic terminals. A CSF-contacting neuronal area also was found in the telencephalon. The CSF-contacting dendrites of all these areas bear solitary 9 x 2 + 0 cilia and resemble chemoreceptors and developing photoreceptors cytologically. In electrophysiological experiments, the neurons of the paraventricular organ are highly sensitive to the composition of the ventricular CSF. The axons of the CSF-contacting neurons of the paraventricular organ and hypothalamic nuclei terminate in hypothalamic synaptic zones, and those of magno- and parvocellular neurosecretory nuclei also form neurohormonal terminals in the median eminence and neurohypophysis. The axons of the CSF-contacting neurons of the vascular sac run in the nervus and tractus sacci vasculosi to the nucleus (ganglion) sacci vasculosi. Some hypothalamic CSF-contacting neurons contain immunoreactive opsin and are candidates to represent the "deep encephalic photoreceptors." In the newt, cells derived from the subependymal layer develop photoreceptor outer segments protruding to the lumen of the infundibular lobe under experimental conditions. Retinal and pineal photoreceptors and some of their secondary neurons possess common cytologic features with CSF-contacting neurons. They contact the retinal photoreceptor space and pineal recess, respectively, both cavities being derived from the third ventricle. In addition to ciliated dendritic terminals, there are intraventricular axons and neuronal perikarya contacting the CSF. Part of the CSF-contacting axons are serotoninergic; their perikarya are situated in the raphe nuclei. Intraventricular axons innervate the CSF-contacting dendrites, intraventricular nerve cells, and/or the ventricular surface of the ependyma. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)
Microscopy Research and Technique 04/1998; 41(1):57-83. DOI:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0029(19980401)41:1<57::AID-JEMT6>3.0.CO;2-R · 1.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fine structure of the organ and the localization of the excitatory amino acids glutamate and aspartate were studied in the parietal eye of lizards by postembedding immunoelectron microscopy. The parietal eye contains cone photoreceptor cells, secondary neurons, and ependymal and lens cells. The photoreceptors form long inner and outer segments, some of them being paired as "twin-photoreceptors" by zonulae adherentes. Perikarya of neurons bear sensory cilia (containing 9x2+0 pairs of tubules) extending into the intercellular space. No neurohormonal terminals are present in the parietal eye. A higher immunoreactivity to glutamate than to aspartate is found in the photoreceptors and in the secondary neurons of the parietal eye. Glutamate immunogold labeling is more intense in the axonal processes of photoreceptors and neurons and in most of the nerve fibers of the parietal nerve running to the brain stem. Weak aspartate and glutamate immunoreactivity can be detected in the ependymal and lens cells. A similar distribution of immunoreactive amino acids is found in the photoreceptors, secondary neurons, and ependymal glial elements of the pineal organ, and retina of the lateral eye of the same animals. Immunoreactive glutamate accumulates in the axons of photoreceptors and secondary neurons of the parietal eye suggesting that this excitatory amino acid acts as a synaptic mediator in the neural efferentation of the organ. Thus, the efferent light-conducting pathway of the parietal organ is similar to that of the pineal organ and lateral eye retina. As the Mullerian cells of the retina, the ependymal and lens cells of the parietal eye and the ependymal-glial cells of the pineal organ may play a role in the metabolism and/or elimination of excitatory amino acids released by photoreceptors.
Cell and Tissue Research 03/1997; 287(2):275-83. DOI:10.1007/s004410050752 · 3.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pinopsin is a pineal specific opsin newly identified in the pineal of birds which has an absorption maximum at 470 nm. As the opsin content of photoreceptors in the pineal complex of several species is not yet known, in the present work, we studied their pinopsin immunoreactivity in various vertebrates from cyclostomes to mammals. We also compared the immunoreactivity of pineal photoreceptors to that of retinal cones and rods of each animal. For the immunocytochemistry, we raised antibodies in rabbits against a 14 amino acids containing part of the chicken pinopsin molecule. The immunoreaction was performed at the electron microscopic level. The pineal organs show a great diversity in vertebrates: there is a pineal organ present from cyclostomes to mammals, in addition, there is a parapineal organ in cyclostomes and fishes, a frontal organ in frogs and a parietal eye in several reptiles. We detected a strong pinopsin immunoreaction on most of the pinealocytes of birds and on the large photoreceptor-type of the pineal of reptiles. Rod-type photoreceptors of the avian retina and a cone of the reptile retina was immunoreactive as well. According to the known absorption maximum of pinopsin, the immunoreactivity may indicate a green-blue light-sensitivity for these photoreceptors. The immunoreactivity was less pronounced or absent in mammals as well as in less differentiated species. The pineal organ of snakes and the parietal eye of reptiles equally failed to exhibit pinopsin immunoreactive photoreceptors, presumably, due to the absence of green-blue light-sensitive photoreceptors of pinopsin-type in these species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In addition to receptor-type pinealocytes, the mammalian pineal organ contains small and large neurons and ependymal/glial cells as well. Axons of pinealocytes form synaptic ribbon-containing axo-dendritic synapses on large secondary pineal neurons and/or terminate as neurohormonal endings on the basal lamina of the vascular surface of the organ. The small pineal neurons were found to be gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-immunoreactive, while large secondary neurons and pinealocytes contained immunoreactive amino acids (glutamate and aspartate). Glutamate accumulated presynaptically in pinealocytic axon terminals on large secondary neurons and in the axons of these neurons. Glutamate immunoreactive axons of pineal neurons were traced via the pineal tract to the habenular nucleus. Axons containing granular vesicles and coming from extrapineal perikarya are glutamate immunoreactive as well. Aspartate and GABA are also present in some of the myelinated axons, supposedly pinealopetal in the pineal tract.