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Abstract

Exposure of adult male hamsters to light-dark (LD) cycles of 0:24 (in hours) for 12 weeks induced atrophy of the testes and accessory sex organs and a drop in immunoreactive pituitary and plasma prolactin levels. The subsequent exposure of these hamsters to LD 14:10 cycles caused regeneration of the sexual organs and an increase in pituitary LH and prolactin levels. Likewise, the weekly treatment of dark-exposed hamsters with subcutaneous melatonin-beeswax pellets led to regeneration of the peripheral reproductive organs and an increase in pituitary LH and prolactin levels. After gonadal regeneration, complete darkness failed to induce atrophy of the reproductive system indicating that either long photoperiods or melatonin treatment cause the pituitary-gonadal axis to be refractory to the inhibitory influence of darkness.