Major biochemical activities of the pineal gland include melatonin biosynthesis and 12-lipoxygenation. In this paper, we provide evidence in vivo that melatonin regulates 12-lipoxygenation via 12-lipoxygenase (LOX) expression. The relationship between these two biochemical activities was established by monitoring levels of endogenous melatonin and a 12-LOX metabolite, 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE), in the rat pineal gland both during the light-dark cycle and after isoproterenol injection using GC/MS with negative ion chemical ionization. As pineal melatonin production reflected a typical diurnal variation, 12-HETE levels showed an off-phase diurnal pattern in relation to melatonin levels. Intravenous administration of isoproterenol, which has been shown to elevate melatonin production, decreased the 12-HETE level significantly. The reduction of 12-HETE levels during the dark phase and after isoproterenol injection was accompanied by decreases in 12-LOX mRNA and protein levels. Direct administration of melatonin to rats by intravenous injection decreased pineal 12-LOX protein levels significantly, indicating that melatonin plays a role in down-regulating 12-LOX expression. When pineal glands were incubated with exogenous melatonin in culture, time-dependent reduction of 12-LOX protein levels was observed. The melatonin-induced reduction in 12-LOX protein was abolished in the presence of the melatonin receptor antagonist luzindole, establishing further the role of melatonin in this process. Incubation of pineal homogenates with exogenous melatonin partially inhibited 12-LOX activity. Taken together, an inverse relationship exists in the endogenous production of 12-HETE, 12-LOX mRNA and protein with respect to melatonin production in the rat pineal gland. Melatonin decreased both 12-LOX mRNA and protein levels in addition to 12-LOX enzyme activity, indicating that melatonin is an endogenous modulator of pineal 12-lipoxygenation.

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