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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 May;298(5):R1409-16. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00279.2009. Epub 2010 Mar 3.

Effects of photoperiod on daily locomotor activity, energy expenditure, and feeding behavior in a seasonal mammal.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Sciences, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


The objective of this study was to determine whether the previously observed effects of photoperiod on body weight in Siberian hamsters were due to changes in the daily patterns of locomotor activity, energy expenditure, and/or feeding behavior. Adult males were monitored through a seasonal cycle using an automated comprehensive laboratory animal monitoring system (CLAMS). Exposure to a short-day photoperiod (SD; 8:16-h light-dark cycle) induced a significant decline in body weight, and oxygen consumption (Vo(2)), carbon dioxide production (Vco(2)), and heat production all decreased reaching a nadir by 16 wk of SD. Clear daily rhythms in locomotor activity, Vo(2), and Vco(2) were observed at the start of the study, but these all progressively diminished after prolonged exposure to SD. Rhythms in feeding behavior were also detected initially, reflecting an increase in meal frequency but not duration during the dark phase. This rhythm was lost by 8 wk of SD exposure such that food intake was relatively constant across dark and light phases. After 18 wk in SD, hamsters were transferred to a long-day photoperiod (LD; 16:8-h light-dark cycle), which induced significant weight gain. This was associated with an increase in energy intake within 2 wk, while Vo(2), Vco(2), and heat production all increased back to basal levels. Rhythmicity was reestablished within 4 wk of reexposure to long days. These results demonstrate that photoperiod impacts on body weight via complex changes in locomotor activity, energy expenditure, and feeding behavior, with a striking loss of daily rhythms during SD exposure.

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