Do Photoperiodic Changes in Melatonin Secretion
- DETRIMENTALLY AFFECT, Riki Szlafrok
To study the relationship between estrous and circadian periodicity, we investigated the period of the estrous cycle in two types of female golden hamsters: normals (circadian period approximately 24 h) and tau mutants (circadian period approximately 20 h). Records of running wheel activity, general locomotor activity, body temperature, vaginal secretion, and sexual receptivity of hamsters kept under constant lighting conditions indicated an estrous period of approximately 96 h for both groups of animals. The fact that animals with different circadian periods have the same estrous period suggests the existence of separate mechanisms in the control of circadian and estrous periodicity. Circadian periodicity is determined by a pacemaker located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei, whereas estrous periodicity is determined by positive and negative feedback loops involving the hypothalamus, pituitary, and gonads. Coupling of the two mechanisms takes place under at least some conditions, but additional research is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms by which this is accomplished.