Photoperiodic response in the male laboratory rat.

E. P. Wallen*, M. A. DeRosch, A. Thebert, S. Losee-Olson, F. W. Turek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Normally photoperiodic laboratory rats can be induced to respond reproductively to a change in the length of the day by various experimental manipulations. One such paradigm that results in significant gonadal regression involves the treatment of rats with exogenous testosterone during exposure to short days. Studies were undertaken to assess various aspects of this model system including 1) the testicular response of testosterone-treated rats exposed to various photoperiods, 2) the time course for testicular regression under a short photoperiod, and 3) the role of the pineal gland as a mediator of the effects of day length on the neuroendocrine-gonadal axis. Photoperiods ranging in length from 2 to 22 h/24 h had no effect on testicular size in untreated rats. In contrast, while near normal testicular weights were maintained in laboratory rats treated with testosterone and exposed to 10 or more h of light per day, testicular regression occurred in rats implanted with testosterone-filled capsules and exposed to photoperiods of 8 or fewer h of light per day. Maximal testicular regression was reached in about 9 wk in testosterone-treated rats exposed to 6L:18D. Removal of the pineal gland totally blocked the inhibitory effects of exposure to short day lengths in testosterone-treated rats. These studies define some of the characteristics of an extant, but dormant, system for photoperiodic time measurement in the common laboratory rat and implicate a role for the pineal gland in this system. These experiments offer evidence that neuroendocrine factors that regulate continuous vs. seasonal reproductive patterns are malleable. Such flexibility in the photoperiodic response may also contribute to the evolution of seasonal to non-seasonal species and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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