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Reprod Suppl. 2002;59:167-79.

Melatonin and seasonal reproduction: understanding the neuroendocrine mechanisms using the sheep as a model.

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UMR INRA-CNRS-Université de Tours, Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, 37380 Nouzilly, France.


The mechanisms by which melatonin controls seasonal reproduction are poorly understood. The use of a large animal model, namely the sheep, has allowed progress in the understanding of these mechanisms, and is the subject of this review. Firstly, the contribution made by large animal models to demonstrating that melatonin acts in the hypothalamus and the identification of this hypothalamic target is reviewed. Secondly, the way in which large animal models have facilitated the demonstration of a specific mechanism of release of melatonin in the cerebrospinal fluid and, thus, raised the question of the route used by melatonin to reach its central targets is discussed. Finally, the human and agricultural relevance of the data presented is considered.

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