Blinding young adult female hamsters was followed by functional involution of the ovaries and uteri and by the cessation of cyclic vaginal phenomena. Light deprivation was also accompanied by elevated plasma and pituitary levels of luteinizing hormone and depressed levels of prolactin in both the blood and the pituitary gland. Only one of 15 blinded hamsters became pregnant when they were exposed to fertile males for 30 days. Both pinealectomy or chronic melatonin treatment (1 mg melatonin implanted subcutaneously per week in beeswax) prevented the changes in the reproductive organs and in pituitary hormone levels attendant on light-deprivation. Both treatment also returned vaginal cycles to normal and restored plasma prolactin titers. Unlike hamsters that were blinded only, light deprived hamsters that were either pinealectomized or melatonin treated were capable of reproducing when they were caged with fertile males. The reproductive capability (i.e., percent of animals that become pregnant and the sizes of their litters) of these animals was equivalent to that of the untreated control hamsters. This is the first report that chronic melatonin treatment restores fertility in blinded female hamsters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology