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Calcification and Activation of the Pineal Gland

This article covers:

  1. How common is pineal gland calcification?

  2. What happens when the pineal gland becomes highly calcified?

  3. Which disorders are associated with pineal gland calcification?

  4. How does melatonin protect against diseases of aging?

  5. Why and how does the pineal gland become calcified?

  6. How to activate the pineal gland

How common is pineal gland calcification (PCG)?

Calcification begins in childhood. It is exceedingly rare in young children and was not observed in CT scans in children under 3[1]. About 2-5% of children aged 0–9 have PGC, 32% of youth aged 10–19 have PCG, and 53% of young adults aged 20–29 have visible PGC[2].

Rates of pineal calcification were significantly underestimated previously. Data of 12,000 healthy middle-adult subjects from Turkey indicated that intracranial calcifications occurred with an incidence of 71.6%[3]. In Iran the rate is around 71%, in Ethiopia it is roughly 72%, and in the US it is 70%[2]. It appears to occur without significant differences among countries, regions, and races.

Approximately 70% of the aged 30+ adult population has visible pineal calcification, leading many scientists to deem it normal, idiopathic, and physiologic. However, large amounts of calcification disrupt normal melatonin secretion and are associated with aging and neurodegeneration. The tipping point between natural, age-related and pathological, neurodegenerative calcification (also called acervuli or brain dust) is unclear.

pineal gland calcifications. top left has no visible calcification.

What happens when the pineal gland becomes highly calcified?

Calcification reduces pineal release of melatonin, disrupting the feedback loop with the master clock (SCN); it can lead to sleep disturbances, which can cause a host of health problems.

Because calcification decreases pineal secretion of melatonin and is associated with sleep disturbances, oxidative stress, and accelerated aging, its presence in 70% of the middle adult population is concerning if we wish to extend our lifespans. Aging is a normal process, but steps can be taken to slow the rate at which it occurs.

Which disorders are associated with pineal gland calcification?

Calcification of the pineal gland has been associated with numerous neurological deficits, including early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, migraine, movement disorders, age-related macular degeneration, dementia, hallucinations, cognitive disorders, and schizophrenia[1, 4, 5]. Pineal calcification has also been associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), sleep disorders, defective sense of direction, pediatric primary brain tumor, and mammary carcinoma[2]. PCG was an independent risk factor for symptomatic cerebral infarct (stroke) (odds ratio: 1.35) and intracerebral hemorrhage (odds ratio: 2.36). Major calcification was seen in patients who died of renal disease associated with hypertension[2].

How does melatonin protect against diseases of aging?

The pineal gland is the major source of melatonin secretion in the body, and melatonin has been shown to delay progression of multiple cancers and liver disease. Melatonin has oncostatic and antitumor effects against certain cancers, such as melanoma and cervical cancer[6, 7]. Melatonin killed gastric cancer cells by downregulating AKT and upregulating caspases, which induced apoptosis[8]. Additionally, melatonin protects against liver disease by inhibiting oxidation, inflammation, hepatic stellate cell proliferation, and hepatocyte apoptosis[9].

Amazingly, melatonin can protect against environmental insults and epigenetic changes. Melatonin protected against meiotic defects in eggs caused by an herbicide, fenoxaprop-ethyl (FE). Exposure of mouse oocytes to FE disrupted actin filament dynamics, spindle organization, reduced sperm binding capacity, induced oocyte apoptosis, and changed histone methylation patterns. Treatment with melatonin significantly improved oocyte outcomes[10]. Additionally, melatonin attenuated cigarette smoke-induced endothelial cell pyroptosis (inflammatory cell death) in rats by inhibiting oxidative stress[11]. Since melatonin alleviates exposure effects, pineal gland calcification leaves many organ systems vulnerable to oxidative stress.

Melatonin is also a potent neuroprotective antioxidant. It directly inhibited secretion and deposition of beta amyloid protein and suppressed tau hyperphosphorylation in rodent models of Alzheimer's disease. Serum & CSF melatonin were inversely correlated with AD. In AD animal models, melatonin prolonged lifespans, improved cognitive performance, and preserved hippocampal neuron structure. Positive effects of melatonin were also seen in studies on Parkinson's disease, ALS, MS, and Huntington's disease in animal and human models[2].

Why and how does the pineal gland become calcified?

The pineal gland demonstrates the highest susceptibility to calcification among all organs/tissues of human body. There are several proposed mechanisms for pineal gland calcification.

  1. Membrane debris buildup

  2. Tryptase-releasing mast cells

  3. Ca2+-ATPase signaling breakdown

  4. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) differentiation

  5. Environmental insults such as fluoride

The first is the metabolic theory of pineal calcification, which deems it a normal process. Calcium binding triggers the exocytosis of polypeptide vesicles. This calcium is exchanged and deposited. Extracellular membrane debris, a by-product of pineal neuronal and glial polypeptide exocytosis, forms the seed crystals that build up into calcification over time[1].

The second theory has to do with mast cells and tryptase. During systemic or local pathological conditions, tryptase-containing mast cells infiltrate the pineal gland and release bioactive compounds like tryptase that participate in calcification.

The third mechanism involves a breakdown of calcium signaling, associated with aging and pathology. Due to failure of the Ca2+-ATPase, there is high intracellular calcium, which results in calcium elimination from pinealocytes.

The fourth theory proposes that the pineal gland has a blood filtration function like the kidney. The pineal gland has the highest blood flow percentage of any organ in the body besides the kidneys. Pineal concretions resemble enamel and dentine in their calcium-phosphate molar ratio. Formation may be organized and programmed. Melatonin facilitates capacity of MSCs to differentiate into osteoblast-like cells. Melatonin upregulates bone morphogenic protein (BMP-2) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and facilitates osteoblast proliferation, mineralization, and bone formation.

MSCs can be triggered by:

  1. Chronic vascular inflammation and increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, like TNF-a and IL-22

  2. Brain tissue hypoxia caused by hypertension, sleep apnea, stroke, or respiratory disorders

  3. Intracranial pressure caused by idiopathic intracranial hypertension, brain trauma, stroke, or AD

Finally, environmental biohazards contribute to calcification, including fluoride. Fluoride is often used for aesthetic reasons but can negatively affect systemic health. High leve