Photoperiod Nonresponsive Siberian Hamsters: Effect of Age on the Probability of Nonresponsiveness


Groups from three different breeding lines of Siberian hamsters (UNS = general colony animals, PNRa = selected for photoperiod nonresponsiveness as adults, PNRj = selected for photoperiod nonresponsiveness as juveniles) were exposed to short days at weaning and again as adults (Experiment 1) or only as adults (Experiment 2). The proportion of photoperiod nonresponsive individuals in each line was determined by measuring testis length after 6 weeks of exposure to short days (juveniles) or by paired testis weights after 12 weeks in short photoperiod (adults). Adults were blood sampled on the day of sacrifice (Experiment 1) or on Weeks 3,4,5,6,8,10, and 12 (Experiment 2) for determination of serum prolactin (PRL) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations. Nonresponsive individuals were present in all three lines of hamsters. Furthermore, all three lines of hamsters showed an increase in the proportion of nonresponders with age; some individuals are responsive to short days as juveniles, but become nonresponsive in adulthood. The two PNR lines exhibited a greater proportion of nonresponders at both ages compared to the UNS line, with the PNRj line exhibiting the greatest proportion of nonresponders at each age. During exposure to short days, nonresponders exhibited significantly higher serum PRL and FSH concentrations than did the UNS line; nonresponders also exhibited larger testis size, and fewer animals molted to winter-type pelage. The results indicate that (a) in all three lines, a significantly higher proportion of animals are nonresponsive to short photoperiod as adults than as juveniles; (b) selection for nonresponsiveness as juveniles can produce a line of hamsters that, as adults, are nearly all nonresponsive to short days; and (c) some individuals from each line are responsive to short photoperiod early in life, but become nonresponsive as adults.

Publication Title

Journal of Biological Rhythms