Ganglia as “electrical switchboxes”
“In our work, we show that the problems with the heart muscle affect an organ that would seem at first glance to have no direct link to it,” says Stefan Engelhardt. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, located inside the brain. Like the heart, it is controlled through the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary processes in the body. The related nerves originate in the ganglia, among other places. Particularly important for the heart and pineal gland is the superior cervical ganglion, which includes cells controlling both organs.
“To get a clear sense of our results, imagine the ganglion as an electrical switchbox. In a patient suffering from sleep disturbances following a heart disease, you can think of a problem with one wire causing a fire to break out in the switchbox and then spreading to another wire,” says Stefan Engelhart.