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Physiol Behav. 2003 Feb;78(2):205-11.

Photoperiod and stress affect wound healing in Siberian hamsters.

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Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Changes in day length alter several indices of immune function in Siberian hamsters. These experiments tested the hypothesis that photoperiodic changes in immune function are integrated at an organismal level as reflected by the ability to heal a cutaneous wound. Given the well-documented effects of psychological stressors on immune function, we also tested the hypothesis that photoperiod modulates the effects of acute stress on wound healing. Male hamsters were housed in long (16L:8D; LD) or short (8L:16D; SD) day lengths for 8+/-2 weeks. SD-treatment was sufficient to induce winter reproductive status. Hamsters then received a dermal punch wound. Hamsters were subjected to either 2 h of daily restraint stress or a control treatment for 3 days prior to and 5 days after wounding. Wounds were digitally photographed daily, and wound size was measured to quantify healing. Wounds of LD hamsters healed significantly faster than did those of SD hamsters. Restraint stress significantly accelerated healing in SD hamsters. The results suggest that the enhancing effects of short-term psychological stressors on immune function are apparent only when reproductive function is suppressed. In nature, enhanced wound healing coincident with the breeding season and territorial defense may be adaptive.

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