The circadian system of ruin lizards: a seasonally changing neuroendocrine loop?

A Foa, C Bertolucci, Roland Brandstaetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that the amplitude of daily melatonin production in cultured ruin lizard pineal organs explanted in the summer is significantly higher than that from organs explanted in the winter. To test whether seasonal photoperiodic changes are decoded autonomously by the pineal gland, pineals explanted in summer were cultured in vitro and exposed to changes between winter and summer photoperiods. The changes in photoperiod duration did not affect the daily profiles of in vitro melatonin production. The discrepancy between the present in vitro results and those from lizards exposed to winter or summer photoperiods before pineal explantation supports the view that circadian information entering the pineal gland via its innervation is involved in determining seasonal changes of melatonin production in ruin lizards. We further examined whether a central component of the circadian system of ruin lizards, specifically the retinae of the lateral eyes, expresses similar seasonal changes in function as does the pineal gland. We did not find any difference between summer and autumn-winter in the effectiveness of either bilateral retinalectomy or optic nerve lesion-at the level of the optic chiasm-in altering circadian locomotor behavior in constant conditions. Both surgical procedures mostly induced a shortening of the free-running period of the locomotor rhythm of similar magnitude in all seasons. Thus, the retinae do not appear to participate in the seasonal reorganization of the circadian system in ruin lizards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalChronobiology International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


  • melatonin
  • circadian rhythm
  • season
  • ruin lizard
  • photoperiod
  • pineal gland
  • retina


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