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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Print version ISSN 0074-0276On-line version ISSN 1678-8060

Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz vol.82  suppl.2 Rio de Janeiro  1987 

The pineal neurohormone melatonin and its physiologic opiatergic immunoregulatory role

Georges J. M. Maestroni1 

Ario Conti1 

Walter Pierpaoli2 

Instituto Cantonale di Patologia, Locarno, Switzerland

Institute for Integrative Biomedical Research, Ebmatingen, Switzerland


The pineal gland functions as a neuroendocrine transducer that coordinate the organism response to changing environmental stimuli such as light and temperature. The main and best known pineal neurohormone is melatonin that is synthesized and released in a circadian fashion with a peak during the night darkness hours. We have recently reported that melatonin exerts important immuno regulatory functions. Here we describe the astonishing property of exogenous melatonin which is able to counteract completely the depressive effect of anxiety-restraint stress and/or of corticosterone on thymus weight, andibody production and antiviral responses. This effect seems to be mediated by antigen-activated T cells via an opiatergic mechanism.


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