Melatonin and other serotonin derivatives in the guinea pig membranous cochlea

Hans K. Biesalski, Horst A. Welker, Rüdiger Thalmann, Lutz Vollrath

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In mammals, the indolealkylamine melatonin is synthesized mainly in the pineal gland and to a lesser degree in a number of extrapineal sites. To obtain more information on its distribution, melatonin was measured in the membranous cochlea of the guinea pig. Moreover, melatonin and other serotonin derivatives were determined in organ cultures after incubation with 14C-labelled serotonin. The results show that melatonin is detectable in the organ of Corti and the basilar membrane, and to a lesser degree also in the cochlear nerve and stria vascularis, including the spiral ligament. In vitro studies reveal the occurrence of a number of radiolabelled serotonin derivatives indicating that two of the melatonin-forming enzymes, serotonin N-acetyltransferase (NAT) and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase (HIOMT) are present in membranous cochlea. It is concluded that melatonin is synthesized in the guinea pig cochlea. Its role as modulator of hair cell function is dissolved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 15 1988


  • Guinea pig
  • Melatonin
  • Membranous cochlea
  • Serotonin metabolism


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