Pineal melatonin rhythms in female Turkish hamsters: effects of photoperiod and hibernation.

J. M. Darrow, L. Tamarkin, M. J. Duncan, B. D. Goldman

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35 Scopus citations


Daily rhythms of pineal and serum melatonin content were characterized for adult female Turkish hamsters (Mesocricetus brandti) exposed to long days (16L:8D, 22 degrees C) or after transfer to short days (10L:14D, 22 degrees C). The nocturnal peak of pineal melatonin content was found to be approximately 3 b greater in duration on short than on long days. Changes in levels of serum melatonin closely paralleled those of pineal melatonin. Thus, an effect of photoperiod on synthesis and secretion of pineal melatonin was demonstrated. In a separate experiment, female hamsters were induced to hibernate by exposure to a short-day, cold environment (10L:14D, 6 degrees C). During the 4 to 5-mo hibernation season, Turkish hamsters are known to display 4 to 8-day hours of torpor (body temperature = 7-9 degrees C) alternating with 1 to 3-day intervals of euthermia (body temperature = 35-37 degrees C). Little evidence of nocturnal synthesis or secretion of pineal melatonin was detected in females sampled during torpor. However, animals sampled during the first day after arousal from a torpor bout displayed melatonin rhythms no different in phase or amplitude from those seen in females held at 22 degrees C. Thus, despite the absence of pineal melatonin output during torpor, the pineal gland of hibernating Turkish hamsters produces an appropriately phased, rhythmic melatonin signal during intervals of euthermia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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