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Pinealectomy induces malformation of the spine and reduces the mechanical strength of the vertebrae in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 15:25 authored by Fjelldal, PG, Grotmol, S, Kryvi, H, Gjerdet, NR, Taranger, GL, Hansen, T, Porter, MJR, Totland, GK
This study describes the long-term effects of surgical ablation of the pineal gland on the spine of 3-yr-old Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) with a mean weight of 3.2 kg. Radiographic examinations showed that 82% of the pinealectomized fish developed marked lateral (scoliosis) and dorso-ventral spinal curvatures. The proportions of the individual vertebral bodies and their mechanical properties were also altered. The stiffness, yield limit and resilience of the vertebral bodies, as measured by compression in the craniocaudal direction, were significantly lower in the pinealectomized than in the sham-pinealectomized group. Calcium, phosphorous and total mineral content of the vertebral bodies were also significantly lower in the pinealectomized fish, while these parameters were similar in scales in the two groups. Alterations of the spinal curve accompanied by changes in the proportions, mechanical strength and mineral content of the vertebral bodies of the pinealectomized salmon indicate that melatonin has several functions related to vertebral bone growth. As the lesions found in salmon are similar to the spinal malformations observed in avian species and mammals after pinealectomy, this study strengthens the hypothesis of a phylogenetically conserved function of the pineal gland related to skeletal development.


Publication title

Journal of Pineal Research








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - aquaculture not elsewhere classified

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