Estrogen treatment alters the expression of ultradian activity rhythms in male and female LEW/Ztm rats. This finding raises the possibility that the expression of ultradian rhythms may vary on different days of the estrous cycle. To test this hypothesis, we recorded the circadian and ultradian wheel-running activity rhythms of entrained (LD 12:12) and free-running sexually mature LEW/Ztm females during their 4- or 5-day estrous cycle. The mean daily activity, the duration of activity, the circadian period of activity, and the occurrence of ultradian rhythms differed significantly among the days of the estrous cycle. In LD 12:12, the phase angle difference between the beginning of activity and light offset varied reliably in 5-day cycling animals. The highest daily mean of activity, the longest duration, and the shortest circadian period length were observed on the day of estrus in both entrained and free-running animals. The day of estrus was characterized by a constant high level of activity throughout the activity phase, while the days following ovulation showed a bi- or trimodal activity pattern. Power spectrum analysis revealed significant ultradian components for the days of metestrus and diestrus, but only circadian components for the days of proestrus and estrus. These results were interpreted as indicating that endogenous changes in circulating hormone levels can induce changes in the ultradian and circadian patterns of wheel-running activity in LEW/Ztm rats.
- Estrous cycle
- Laboratory rat
- Ultradian and circadian rhythms
- Wheel-running activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience