Cellular proliferation in the rat pineal gland during postnatal development


  • J. C. Carvajal Cocina
  • S. Carbajo
  • M. B. Gómez Esteban
  • A. J. Álvarez-Morujo Suárez
  • L. Muñoz Barragan


pineal gland, cellular proliferation, development, rat


To establish a possible correlation between the rate of cellular proliferation and already documented functional and morphological characteristics of the rat pineal gland during postnatal development, the bromodeoxyuridine labelling method was used to evaluate the fraction of cells at the S phase of the cell cycle in paraffin sections from I-, 7-, 14- and 28-day-old rats. Numerical density, taken as an indirect measure of cell hypertrophy, was also evaluated. During the first week after birth the percentage of S phase-cells in the rat pineal gland sharply decreased from around 9% to 1.3%. A smaller but also significant decrease was found from the 7th to the 14th postnatal day where S phase cells were less than 0.5% of all pineal cells. A very low percentage was also seen in samples from 28-day-old rats. Numerical density, namely, the total number of cells per surface unit of pineal section, decreased from birth to the end of the first month. This decrease was also steeper from birth to the 7th postnatal day than at any other period of the study. These results support the idea that a strong expansion of the cellular population of the rat pineal gland precedes morphological and functional maturation and opens the way to further exploration of the relationship between functional and proliferative responses of the pineal gland.