Failure to respond to endogenous or exogenous melatonin may cause nonphotoresponsiveness in Harlan Sprague Dawley rats
Department of Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA
Journal of Circadian Rhythms 2005, 3:12 doi:10.1186/1740-3391-3-12Published: 14 September 2005
Responsiveness to changing photoperiods from summer to winter seasons is an important but variable physiological trait in most temperate-zone mammals. Variation may be due to disorders of melatonin secretion or excretion, or to differences in physiological responses to similar patterns of melatonin secretion and excretion. One potential cause of nonphotoresponsiveness is a failure to secrete or metabolize melatonin in a pattern that reflects photoperiod length.
This study was performed to test whether a strongly photoresponsive rat strain (F344) and strongly nonphotoresponsive rat strain (HSD) have similar circadian urinary excretion profiles of the major metabolite of melatonin, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s), in long-day (L:D 16:8) and short-day (L:D 8:16) photoperiods. The question of whether young male HSD rats would have reproductive responses to constant dark or to supplemental melatonin injections was also tested. Urinary 24-hour aMT6s profiles were measured under L:D 8:16 and L:D 16:8 in young male laboratory rats of a strain known to be reproductively responsive to the short-day photoperiod (F344) and another known to be nonresponsive (HSD).
Both strains exhibited nocturnal rises and diurnal falls in aMT6s excretion during both photoperiods, and the duration of the both strains' nocturnal rise was longer in short photoperiod treatments. In other experiments, young HSD rats failed to suppress reproduction or reduce body weight in response to either constant dark or twice-daily supplemental melatonin injections.
The results suggest that HSD rats may be nonphotoresponsive because their reproductive system and regulatory system for body mass are unresponsive to melatonin.