In mammals, photoperiodic information is transformed into a melatonin secretory rhythm in the pineal gland (high levels at night, low levels during the day). Melatonin exerts its effects in discrete hypothalamic areas, most likely through MT1 melatonin receptors. Whether melatonin is brought to the hypothalamus from the cerebrospinal fluid or the blood is still unclear. The final action of this indoleamine at the level of the central nervous system is a modulation of GnRH secretion but it does not act directly on GnRH neurones; rather, its action involves a complex neural circuit of interneurones that includes at least dopaminergic, serotoninergic and aminoacidergic neurones. In addition, this network appears to undergo morphological changes between seasons.
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