The thalamic intergeniculate leaflet mediates locomotor activity-induced reversal of phenotype in photoperiod nonresponsive Siberian hamsters


The role of the intergeniculate leaflet of the thalamus (IGL) in photoperiod responsiveness was examined in a laboratory-selected line of photoperiod nonresponsive (NR) Siberian hamsters. NR hamsters fail to exhibit typical winter-type responses (i.e., gonadal regression and development of winter-type pelage) when exposed to short day lengths (e.g., 10 h of light/day). Earlier studies revealed that NR hamsters will exhibit winter-type responses when exposed to short photoperiod if they are given free access to a running wheel. The present study tested the hypothesis that this locomotor activity-induced reversal of phenotype is dependent on the IGL. Male NR hamsters underwent destruction of the IGL prior to being housed in short day lengths in cages equipped with running wheels. Activity rhythms were monitored for 8 weeks, after which time pelage response and paired testes weights were obtained. In contrast to sham-operated NR animals given access to running wheels, IGL-ablated animals showed no increase in the duration of nocturnal running wheel activity and became active later in the night than sham-lesioned animals. Lesioned animals also failed to exhibit the typical short photoperiod-induced gonadal regression and pelage molt. The results implicate the IGL in the mechanism by which running wheel activity can influence photoperiodic responses. © 2006 Sage Publications.

Publication Title

Journal of Biological Rhythms