Diurnal, Photoperiodic, and Age-Related Changes in Plasma Growth Hormone Levels in the Golden Hamster

Brent Laartz, Sue Losee-Olson, yi Rong ge, Fred W. Turek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The golden hamster has been used extensively as an animal model for the study of both circadian and seasonal rhythms, and their regulation by the light-dark (LD) cycle. More recently, this species has been used to examine how the generation and entrainment of circadian rhythms are altered in advanced age. Recent studies in both humans and rodents indicate that age-related changes in the diurnal rhythm of pituitary growth hormone (GH) release may mediate some of the adverse effects of aging on a variety of physiological systems. As a first step in determining whether or not age-related changes in circulating GH levels are associated with changes in the regulation and/or expression of circadian rhythms, the effects of age on both the ultradian and diurnal patterns of plasma GH levels were determined in 3- to 22-month-old male hamsters that were bled every 15 min for a 24-hr period while entrained to an LD 14:10 light cycle. An additional study involving a similar blood collection protocol examined whether or not the length of the day is involved in the regulation of plasma GH levels. Although the frequency of pulsatile GH release did not change with advanced age, both the mean levels of GH per sample and the mean amplitude per pulse of GH were significantly elevated in 3- to 4-month-old animals, compared to animals that were 12-13, 15-16, or 21-22 months of age. In hamsters aged 3-4 and 12-13 months, there was an increase in both mean levels and the mean amplitude per pulse of GH, but not pulse frequency, during the night as compared to daytime values. No such diurnal rhythm was detected in the two groups of older animals. A clear diurnal rhythm in GH levels was also detected in animals maintained in a short-day (LD 6:18) cycle, and the mean levels of GH per sample were greater in hamsters maintained on short compared to long (LD 14:10) days. These results indicate that there are pronounced age-related changes in pituitary GH release in the hamster, and that both the time of day and the length of the day influence the pattern of GH release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of biological rhythms
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • aging
  • annual
  • circadian
  • growth hormone
  • photoperiodism
  • seasonal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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