Role of the pituitary gland in the development of photorefractoriness and generation of long-term changes in prolactin secretion in rams

G. A. Lincoln, I. J. Clarke

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Hypothalamo-pituitary disconnected Soay rams were exposed to two photoperiodic treatments: 1) constant long days (16L:8D) for 48 wk after pretreatment under short days (LD group), and 2) constant short days (8L:16D) for 48 wk after pretreatment under long days (SD group). In the LD group, plasma prolactin (PRL) concentrations increased from 0 to 8 wk (maximum: 143.3 ± 8.4 μg/l; 8.8 ± 1.2 wk), decreased from 9 to 34 wk (minimum: 15.6 ± 1.6 μg/l; 34.5 ± 1.5 wk), and finally increased again under the constant conditions, with a similar cyclical pattern for all individuals. In the SD group, PRL concentrations showed an inverse pattern (minimum: 8.6 ± 2.6 μg/l; 17.1 ± 2.0 wk; maximum: 46.4 ± 5.5 μg/l; 30.2 ± 3.2 wk), with more variability. Plasma concentrations of FSH were basal in both groups. The duration of the daily nocturnal melatonin peak (measured at 10, 24, and 44 wk) remained close to 8 h under long days (high-fidelity melatonin signal) but decreased significantly (13.8 h to 9.3 h) under short days (low-fidelity melatonin signal). The results support the conclusion that the melatonin signal encoding photoperiod acts within the pituitary gland to induce both acute (inductive) and chronic (refractory) effects photoperiod on PRL secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-438
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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