Male Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) housed in long days (LD), but not short days (SD) release luteinizing hormone (LH) when exposed to females. This study examined whether this response is specific to a female and identifies the source of a stimulus that induces LH release. Serum concentrations of LH, testosterone (T), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and cortisol were examined in all experiments. T concentrations mirrored the LH response; FSH and cortisol were unchanged in response to all stimuli. Exposure to an LD female, irrespective of her reproductive status, but not an SD female, elicited LH release. Exposure to another male did not trigger LH release. Males released LH when allowed physical contact with an anesthetized female, but not when separated from a normally active female, suggesting that tactile or nonvolatile chemosensory stimuli elicit LH release. Urine and secretions collected from the vagina as well as oral, midventral, perineal, and rectal glands, elicited marked behavioral responses in male P. sungorus. Despite these behavioral responses, only feces from females elicited LH release in males. Males released LH in response to feces extracted from the rectum and to cotton swabs that had been rubbed against the rectal mucosa, suggesting that a component of rectal secretions may trigger LH release in male Siberian hamsters. Taken together, these data and previous data from our laboratory indicate that both the production of and the response to a pheromone that triggers the selective release of LH is regulated by day length.
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