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Cryobiology. 2010 Apr;60(2):198-203. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

Torpor and ultradian rhythms require an intact signalling of the sympathetic nervous system.

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Department of Biology, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


During entrance into torpor heart and respiration rates are greatly reduced in parallel with the reduction of metabolic rate, suggesting an involvement of parasympathetic control. We compared the effect of parasympathetic inhibition with the effect of sympathetic inhibition on spontaneous torpor behaviour in the Djungarian hamster. Hamsters were acclimated to short photoperiod and displayed their standard torpor pattern as observed from T(b) records. Parasympathetic inhibition was achieved by a subcutaneous implant of 21-day release pellets with Atropine and the sympathetic noradrenergic pathway was inhibited with a single injection of 6-Hydroxydopamine. Atropine treatment did not affect the occurrence and quality of spontaneous daily torpor at all. However, the reversible sympathetic inhibition by 6-Hydroxydopamine injection resulted in a complete disappearance of torpor for about 6 days. These results conclude that the onset of daily torpor requires an intact noradrenergic signalling of the sympathetic nervous system. We further observed that parasympathetic as well as sympathetic blockade resulted in an immediate abolishment of ultradian rhythms of body temperature. This suggests that the expression of ultradian oscillations in body temperature require a continued interaction of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity.

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