Summary. This study was performed to determine whether rapid alternation between long and short days abolished seasonal variations in the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-testis axis observed normally in Alpine and Saanen male goats during the year. Three groups of 6 males were used: group 1 remained in open sheds under the natural annual change in daylength from 16 h of light (long day) to 8 h of light (short day). Group 2 was exposed to 1 month of long days alternated with 1 month of short days; and group 3 to 2 months of long days alternated with 2 months of short days. In group 1, blood samples were taken in December, February and June; in groups 2 and 3, samples were obtained once during short and long days for the melatonin assay. For luteinizing hormone and testosterone determinations monthly samples from group 1 were obtained from September to August while, in groups 2 and 3, blood samples were taken on 4 occasions during long and short days. Weekly blood samples were taken from all groups during the whole of the experiment to measure prolactin and testosterone concentrations.
Melatonin profiles indicated that secretion by the pineal gland of male goats from the treated groups adapted to rapid changes in daylength: duration of nocturnal secretion was close to that of the dark period. Treated goats were also able to transduce this signal adequately and always responded to long days by increasing their prolactin concentration (mean ± s.e.m.; group 2: 62·4 ± 6·8 ng/ml; group 3: 102·3 ± 15·7 ng/ml) and to short days with a decrease in prolactin concentrations (35·0 ± 3·6 and 46·1 ± 9·5 ng/ml, respectively). In the treated groups, luteinizing hormone pulse frequency varied with day length. In group 2, it was higher in long days (1·1 ± 0·3 pulses in 8 hours) than in short days (0·7 ± 0·3) while, in group 3, this frequency was higher in short days (1·9 ± 0·3) than in long days (0·5 ± 0·2). Testosterone secretion also varied with daylength; in group 2, the testosterone concentrations were maximum during long days (5·8 ± 1·4 ng/ml) while in group 3 the maximum testosterone concentrations occurred during short days (6·4 ± 1·2 ng/ml).
These results lead to the conclusion that rapid alternation oflong and short days either attenuated (group 3) or prevented (group 2) seasonal changes in the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis. The maintenance of high testicular weight and high sexual activity was due to periods of gonadotrophin stimulation of the testis alternating rapidly with periods of quiescence.
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