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J Exp Biol. 2013 Sep 15;216(Pt 18):3495-503. doi: 10.1242/jeb.089607. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Long-day photoperiod interacts with vasopressin and food restriction to modulate reproductive status and vasopressin receptor expression of male golden spiny mice.

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Department of Evolution and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.


We tested the effects of photoperiod, water and food availability on body mass, reproductive status and arginine vasopressin receptor 1A (Avpr1a) mRNA expression in males of desert-adapted golden spiny mice, Acomys russatus. In Experiment 1, males were acclimated to short-day (SD; 8 h:16 h light:dark) or long-day (LD; 16 h:8 h light:dark) photoperiods with either saline (control) or vasopressin treatment for 3 weeks. The results of this experiment revealed that under control conditions, SD mice increased body mass by ~5% while LD mice decreased it by ~4%. SD photoperiod had no effect on reproductive status and leptin levels, whereas LD males increased testes mass and serum testosterone, but the photoperiod had no effect on leptin levels. Vasopressin administration decreased LD-induced reproductive enhancement. Because no consistent effect of SD treatment was found on reproductive status, Experiment 2 was carried out only on LD-acclimated males kept under 75% food restriction (decrease from ad libitum) with saline or leptin treatment. Body mass, testes mass, serum testosterone, leptin concentrations and Avpr1a mRNA expression were measured. Food restriction remarkably decreased body mass, with a more potent effect in leptin-treated males, showing enhanced reproductive status and a significant increase in serum leptin compared with controls. Avpr1a expression was significantly upregulated in LD, vasopressin-treated and food-restricted males, with higher levels in the hypothalamus compared with the testes. We conclude that in A. russatus, LD photoperiod interacts with water and food availability to advance reproductive responses. Avpr1a is suggested to integrate nutritional and osmotic signals to optimize reproduction by modulating reproductive and energetic neuroendocrine axes at the central level. The interaction between photoperiod and other environmental cues is of an adaptive value to desert-adapted small rodents for timing reproduction in unpredictable ecosystems such as extreme deserts.


desert-adapted; leptin; photoperiod; testosterone; vasopressin receptor mRNA; water and food availability

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