Different neural melatonin-target tissues are critical for encoding and retrieving day length information in siberian hamsters


Siberian hamsters exhibit several seasonal rhythms in physiology and behaviour, including reproduction, energy balance, body mass, and pelage colouration. Unambiguous long- and short day lengths stimulate and inhibit reproduction, respectively. Whether gonadal growth or regression occurs in an intermediate day length (e.g. 14h L : 10h D; 14L), depends on whether the antecedent day lengths were shorter (10L) or longer (16L). Variations in day length are encoded by the duration of nocturnal pineal melatonin secretion, which is decoded at several neural melatonin target tissues to control testicular structure and function. We assessed participation of three such structures in the acquisition and retrieval of day length information. Elimination of melatonin signalling to the nucleus reuniens (NRe), but not to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) or paraventricular thalamus (PVt), interfered with the acquisition of a long day reproductive response, whereas the obscuring of melatonin signals to the SCN and the NRe, but not to the PVt, interfered with the photoperiod history response. The SCN and NRe contribute in different ways to the melatonin-based system that mediates seasonal rhythms in male reproduction. © 2007 The Authors. Journal Compilation 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication Title

Journal of Neuroendocrinology