Neural processes from mammalian pinealocytes have been discovered in several brain areas. These processes were visualized immunocytochemically in the Djungarian hamster, Phodopus sungorus, with an antiserum against bovine retinal S-antigen and traced as far as the region of the posterior commissure and habenular nuclei. This result indicates that pineal-to-brain connections exist in the mammal, and that the mammalian pineal gland, currently thought of only as a neuroendocrine organ, may communicate directly with select brain regions by way of these projections. The existence of mammalian pinealocyte projections is consistent with the view that these cells are not of glial origin but are derivatives of photoreceptor cells of the pineal complex of lower vertebrates that transmit signals to the brain by neural projections.
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