Effects of photoperiod, pinealectomy and castration on body weight and daily torpor in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)

P. M. Vitale, J. M. Darrow, M. J. Duncan, C. A. Shustak, B. D. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


During the autumn and winter Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) exhibit regression of the gonads, development of a white winter pelage, loss of body weight and daily torpor. These seasonal events are largely regulated by changes in photoperiod. The present experiments were designed to examine the role of the testes and the pineal gland in photoperiodically induced daily torpor and body weight loss. Hamsters displayed a loss of body weight and daily torpor when exposed to a short-day photoperiod in a cold environment, but these phenomena did not occur in hamsters exposed to long days and cold. Testicular regression is probably a precondition for the display of torpor, since daily torpor was almost totally inhibited in hamsters which were exposed to short days and in which testosterone was administered from subcutaneous silicone elastomer implants. Nevertheless, decreased testosterone secretion alone is not a sufficient condition for induction of daily torpor, since torpor was rarely observed in hamsters exposed to long days, even after castration. In addition to decreased testicular activity, the pineal gland is also involved in establishing conditions for torpor. Thus, pinealectomy prevented the display of torpor by castrated hamsters exposed to short days. Body weight changes were also found to be influenced by both testicular hormone and pineal activity. These observations indicate that the pineal gland is involved, as a part of the photoperiodic mechanism, in regulating a variety of physiological events and that some of these actions of the pineal are independent of its extensively described actions on the reproductive axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-375
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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