Exogenous and endogenous control of the annual reproductive cycle in the male golden hamster: Participation of the pineal gland

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Testes and accessory sex organs (seminal vesicles and coagulating glands) of hamsters exposed to natural lighting (NL) conditions beginning September 22 underwent complete degeneration by October 31. The following February the testes began to regrow with the regeneration being complete by mid to late March. Associated with the atrophic response of the testes during the winter months was a consistent depression in pituitary prolactin and an inconsistent decrease in pituitary luteinizing hormone levels. If hamsters are pinealectomized prior to their exposure to NL, the sexual organs do not atrophy and the pituitary hormone levels do not drop. Moving hamsters from NL to the long daily photoperiods (light:dark cycles of 14 hrs light and 10 hrs darkness— LD 14:10) of the laboratory near mid winter is followed by regrowth of the gonads and accessory glands. Regeneration of the reproductive system in the spring is not a function of increasing photoperiodic length since if animals are completely deprived of light (by blinding) in February, the gonads still regenerate. When hamsters are exposed to LD 14:10 cycles during the subsequent summer, the return to NL on September 22 is followed by a second involution of the reproductive system. However, if the period of LD 14:10 (the simulated summer) is shortened by ten weeks, the second return to NL does not initiate involution of the reproductive system. During the simulated summer complete light deprivation by blinding is incapable of forcing atrophy of the sexual organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1975


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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