Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 175, Issue 5, pp 573–579 | Cite as

Effect of photoperiod and exogenous melatonin on correlates of estrus in the domestic rabbit

  • R. Hudson
  • A. I. Melo
  • G. González-Mariscal
Original Papers


It was the purpose of this study to test whether inhibition of estrus in the rabbit by short photoperiod could be simulated by subcutaneous implants of the pineal hormone melatonin. By measuring two non-invasive and readily quantifiable correlates of estrus, emission of the so-called nipple-search pheromone and scent-marking behavior (chinning), it was found that:
  1. 1.

    In intact does kept in stimulatory long photoperiod, melatonin suppressed chinning but had no effect on emission of nipple-search pheromone.

  2. 2.

    In intact, melatonin-treated does which were returned from inhibitory short day to stimulatory long day, chinning remained suppressed, whereas pheromone emission increased as for the vehicle-treated, control does.

  3. 3.

    In ovariectomized does, estradiol administration stimulated both pheromone emission and chinning whereas melatonin failed to suppress these effects.


Thus, although the administration of melatonin had an inhibitory effect on chinning it failed to suppress emission of the nipple-search pheromone and therefore failed to fully simulate the effect of short photoperiod on these two correlates of estrus. Several explanations for this discrepancy are considered, including the possibility that melatonin is not the sole mediary of the photoperiodic response, and that at least in female rabbits, other pineal products may also play a significant role.

Key words

Photoperiod Melatonin Estradiol Estrus Pheromone Scent marking Rabbit 







estradiol benzoate


h light/h dark


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hudson
    • 1
  • A. I. Melo
    • 2
  • G. González-Mariscal
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Medizinische PsychologieLudwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMünchenGermany
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación en Reproduction AnimalCINVESTAV-Universidad Autónoma de TlaxcalaTlaxcala, Tlax.México

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