Circadian levels of melatonin were determined in the hepatic portal vein, cranial vena cava, and the lower aorta of ten juvenile pigs. Blood was sampled every hour for a total of 24 hr via temporary cannulas introduced into blood vessels under anesthesia. No peak levels of melatonin were found in the mid‐scotophase, but hepatic portal concentrations peaked at 06.00 hr. Overall levels of melatonin were highest in the hepatic portal vein (range 35–65 pg/mL), followed by an artery (range 30–55 pg/mL) and the vena cava (range 25–35 pg/mL). Levels of melatonin exhibit strong variation between individual pigs, but generally the average levels from all three sources follow each other's time course. However, on occasion, melatonin levels in the hepatic portal vein varied independently from the levels in the vena cava. Large portal peaks were usually preceded by a feeding period and were associated with a subsequent period of sleep. The data indicate that: 1) there is no clear circadian rhythm of melatonin in the peripheral blood of pigs, 2) relatively little melatonin is metabolized during the first liver passage, 3) food intake may elevate melatonin levels in the hepatic portal vein, and 4) increased levels of melatonin originated in the gastrointestinal tract may induce sleep.
Journal of Pineal Research – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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