What is pineal gland? what are functions of pineal gland its embryonic development along with disorder of the pineal gland

PINEAL GLAND

introduction
Among all of the other endocrine glands of the body there is also a very important endocrine gland present mostly in all of the vertebrates that goes by the name of pineal gland. Almost of the vertebrates have this pineal gland in there body but there are some also that do not have this gland such that exceptions are present in all cases but such vertebrates would have some other structure at its place performing functions that this gland is responsible for. A french scientist known by the name of Rene Descartes in the 17th century disused the pineal gland in his first book and that book was known by the name of Treatise of Man and he also believed that pineal gland is the principal seat of the soul. At a point of time in the history it was also known by the name of third eye. At the time when the pineal gland was being understood some people also believed it to be a vestigial remnant of a large organ. The Latin name of pineal gland is glandula pinealis this gland is also known by some other names such as epiphysis cerebri and conarium. If we talk about the position of the pineal gland than we can say that this gland is located in the epithalamus near the center of the brain between its two hemispheres and is tucked in a groove where the two halves of the thalamus join. If we talk about the shape of the pineal gland than it is pine shaped from where its name is derived. The precursor of the pineal gland is the neural ectoderm roof of the diencephalon which is a section of the brain and is located behind the third cerebral ventricle in the brain mid-line. Pineal gland is one of the gland of the body that neuroendocrine secretory circumventricular organ that means there is no blood brain barrier at the capillary level. In the humans pineal gland is about 0.8 cm long and weights about 0.1 grams  and if we talk about the color of the pineal gland than we can say that it is reddish grey in color. Pineal gland is located behind the third ventricle of the brain and is bathed in CSF through a small structure known as pineal recess. If we talk about the blood and nervous supply of the pineal gland than we can say that in case of blood supply it has a profuse blood flow that is supplied from the choroidal branches of the posterior cerebral artery and if we talk about the nervous supply than we can say that it gets its sympathetic nervous supply from the following

  • superior cervical ganglion
where as it gets it parasympathetic supply from the followings
  • otic ganglia
  • pterygopalatine 

like every other structures of the body pineal gland is also made up of various type of different and unique cells that performs their own unique functions and have properties that differ from each other. In case of the pineal gland it is made up of five type of different cells and the names of the cells of the pineal gland are as following

  • interstitial cells
  • pinealocytes
  • pineal neurons
  • peptidergic neuron like cells
  • perivascular phagocytes 
the most important thing for an organ is its development during the embryonic development and in case of the pineal gland of the humans it grows in size until about 1 to 2 years of initial age although its weight and activity increases gradually mainly till the time of puberty. When the puberty arrives the melatonin production is reduced and the reason for this decrease is that abundant melatonin level in children are believed to inhibit the sexual development.

PINEAL GLAND  

functions of the pineal gland
One of the hormone that is released from the pineal gland goes by the name of melatonin and this hormone is responsible for the regulation of the internal clocks that are also known by the name of the circadian rhythms and in humans melatonin maintains or regulates a very important circadian rhythm and it is the regulation of the sleep and awake cycle. Melatonin is in fact regulated by the amount of light that a person is exposed to. As melatonin is released from the pineal gland therefore we can say that pineal gland acts a key to the body internal consciousness regulation because it makes signals that makes someone feel tired, sleepy, wake up, alert and many more conditions like these all around the day. As melatonin is involves in sleeping cycle therefore greater amounts of melatonin is released when it is dark so that it can induce sleep in us and similarly to wake up us in the morning it is inhibit by the light we can also relate this to their life as many people wake up and they tend to go next to windows or to go into sunlight so that they can freshly start their morning this is affecting or inhibiting their melatonin production that changes their sleep mode with the wake up mode. In some species the pineal gland cells are photosensitive such as in humans and in some higher mammals the photoendocrine system is made up of retina the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus and the non-adrenergic sympathetic fibers terminating in the pineal gland . Some other important functions of the pineal gland that are being studied. Pineal gland also influences the pituitary gland for the release of reproductive hormones such as FSH and LH it is also being studied that the melatonin blocks the secretion of the gonadotrophins  such as LH and FSH therefore as i have mentioned above the melatonin levels decrease during the time of puberty as melatonin inhibits sexual development and it do so by blocking the secretions of gonadotropins from the anterior pituitary and these gonadotropins such as follicle stimulating hormone and luteinization hormone aid in the proper development and function of the ovaries and testes. In humans both precocious puberty and the delayed puberty have been associated with the pineal tumors and cysts. Along with role pineal gland is also involves in the regulation of the bone metabolism 


diseases related to the pineal gland
Due to various structural and development problems variations and disorders in the pineal gland can arise and some thing increased concentration of some certain substances in the body can play this role such that there are various factors that can play can major role in pineal gland related disorders but at this point there is one thing to be noted and that thing is that like other endocrine glands of the body such the 
and various other endocrine glands of the body there is no well defined pineal hormone deficiency or hormone excess syndrome. Pineal gland disorders can also causes disturbance in the normal functions of the body such as with the disturbance in the pineal gland following things can occur in the body 
  • sleep and mental health issues 
  • sleep problems with aging as with the aging pineal gland secretes less melatonin 
  • people with impaired pineal gland found damage to their sense of directions 
whereas some of the symptoms that are related to the pineal gland disorders are as following 
  • headache 
  • nausea
  • vomiting 
  • disturbance in menstrual cycles 
  • problems in ovulation
  • changes in fertility
  • loss of direction 
  • sleeping issues 
  • mental health problems 
some of the disorder that are related to pineal gland are as following 
  • calcification of the pineal gland 
  • pinealomas
calcification of the pineal gland
Pineal gland also may accumulates calcium deposits in them these deposits are healthy in normal persons but storage of calcium more than a certain limit in this gland can cause various problems and interfering with the normal functional of the pineal gland. As the pineal gland is related with the hypothalamus so any problem in the hypothalamus can effect the normal functions of the pineal gland some of the symptoms that can occur in case of disturbed function of the pineal gland are as following 
  • sleeping problems 
  • disturbed circadian rhythms of the body 
  • osteoporosis 
  • headache 
  • nausea
  • vomiting 
  • disturbance in menstrual cycles 
  • problems in ovulation
  • changes in fertility
  • loss of direction 
the calcified pineal gland is often detected and scene in skull x rays calcification of the pineal gland is also associated with a condition that is also known by the name of corpora arenacea.






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