The dorsomedial nucleus (DMN) of the hypothalamus, the only site within the mediobasal hypothalamus of Syrian hamsters that both binds melatonin and has abundant concentrations of androgen receptors, has been proposed as a target tissue for induction of seasonal changes in brain sensitivity to steroid negative feedback. We tested whether DMN ablation, which does not interfere with pineal gland secretion of melatonin in short day lengths, prevents testicular regression by altering sensitivity to steroid negative feedback. Hamsters with DMN lesions, unlike control hamsters, failed to undergo testicular regression after transfer from a long (14 h light/day) to a short day length (8 h light/day); however, increased negative-feedback inhibition of follicle-stimulating hormone by testosterone was not compromised by ablation of the DMN, indicating that this tissue is not an essential mediator of seasonal changes in feedback sensitivity. We propose a redundant neural network comprised of multiple structures, each of which contributes to neuroendocrine mechanisms, that determines the effect of short days on gonadal function.
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Vol. 89 • No. 2