Effects of Melatonin on Anterior Pituitary Plasticity: A Comparison Between Mammals and Teleosts
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFrontiers in Endocrinology. 2021, 11 1-20. 10.3389/fendo.2020.605111
Melatonin is a key hormone involved in the photoperiodic signaling pathway. In both teleosts and mammals, melatonin produced in the pineal gland at night is released into the blood and cerebrospinal fluid, providing rhythmic information to the whole organism. Melatonin acts via specific receptors, allowing the synchronization of daily and annual physiological rhythms to environmental conditions. The pituitary gland, which produces several hormones involved in a variety of physiological processes such as growth, metabolism, stress and reproduction, is an important target of melatonin. Melatonin modulates pituitary cellular activities, adjusting the synthesis and release of the different pituitary hormones to the functional demands, which changes during the day, seasons and life stages. It is, however, not always clear whether melatonin acts directly or indirectly on the pituitary. Indeed, melatonin also acts both upstream, on brain centers that control the pituitary hormone production and release, as well as downstream, on the tissues targeted by the pituitary hormones, which provide positive and negative feedback to the pituitary gland. In this review, we describe the known pathways through which melatonin modulates anterior pituitary hormonal production, distinguishing indirect effects mediated by brain centers from direct effects on the anterior pituitary. We also highlight similarities and differences between teleosts and mammals, drawing attention to knowledge gaps, and suggesting aims for future research.