Melanin was measured in various parts of the rat brain by a spectrophotofluorometric assay. This method could detect natural, Sepia melanin as well as melanin synthesized from L-DOPA. Contrary to published expectations of other investigators, measurable amounts of melanin were found in the brain of albino as well as pigmented rats. The highest concentrations of melanin occurred in the pons-medulla and midbrain, but all regions within the blood-brain barrier contained greater concentrations than samples from many other tissues in the body. No significant change in the melanin content was found after various endocrine manipulations such as removal of the pituitary, pineal, adrenals, thyroid, testes, or ovaries, exposure to constant illumination or darkness, and daily injection for 5 weeks of α-MSH, Pro-Leu-Gly-NH2 (MIF-I) or melatonin. As expected, retinal tissue from black-hooded rats contained extremely high levels of melanin whereas that from albino rats contained no melanin. It is thought that the presence of melanin in the brain of albino and pigmented rats may have a function which is still unknown.
ASJC Scopus subject areas