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Effect of photostimulation on concentrations of plasma prolactin in castrated bantams (Gallus domesticus).

  • Sreekumar, K P
  • Sharp, P J
Published Article
Journal of neuroendocrinology
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1998
PMID: 9535060


The annual breeding cycle of 'unimproved' breeds of domestic chicken, including the bantam, at temperate latitudes, is terminated by decreasing daylength in autumn and is initiated in late winter, while daylengths are still short. Observations on photoperiodic birds that terminate seasonal breeding by the development of long day photorefractoriness suggest that the photoinduced pattern of prolactin secretion is associated with the pattern of gonadal growth and regression. It was predicted that, if there is a causal relationship between photoinduced changes in prolactin secretion and gonadal function in birds then, in the bantam, the pattern of prolactin secretion observed after photostimulation would not be the same as in birds terminating breeding by the development of long day photorefractoriness. Experiments were carried out on surgically castrated bantams to avoid confounding the effects of photostimulation and the stimulatory actions of testicular hormones on prolactin secretion. Transfer of photosensitive castrated bantams from 8 to 14, 16, 18 or 20 h light/day initially stimulated prolactin release and, subsequently, after 20-30 days, concentrations of plasma prolactin progressively decreased. After 148 days of photostimulation, concentrations of plasma prolactin approached but were still higher than short day controls. Transfer of photosensitive castrated bantam cockerels from 8 to 12 h light/day stimulated a slower increase in plasma prolactin that subsequently remained higher than in other photostimulated groups. A further 4 h increase in photoperiod in the birds exposed for 148 days to 12 or 16 h light/day resulted, respectively, in a transitory increase and no increase in prolactin secretion. Recovery of photosensitivity for prolactin release was observed in the birds transferred to 18 or 20 h light/day for 148 days after treatment with 8 h light/day for 35 days. Attempts to obtain an independent hormonal correlate of the prolactin responses to photostimulation by measurement of plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) were unsuccessful. The concentration of plasma LH in castrated bantams did not change in response to a change in photoperiod. These observations show that the photoinduced pattern of prolactin release in the bantam, a species which terminates seasonal breeding in response to decreasing daylength, is the same as that in birds which terminate seasonal breeding by the development of long day photorefractoriness. It is concluded that the photoinduced pattern of prolactin secretion in birds can be dissociated from the neuroendocrine mechanisms controlling the termination of seasonal breeding.

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