Photoperiod and acute energy deficits interact on components of the thyroid hormone system in hypothalamic tanycytes of the Siberian hamster

Annika Herwig, Dana Lorraine Wilson, Tracy Logie, Anita Boelen, Peter John Morgan, Julian Mercer, Perry Barrett

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Herwig A, Wilson D, Logie TJ, Boelen A, Morgan PJ, Mercer JG, Barrett P. Photoperiod and acute energy deficits interact on components of the thyroid hormone system in hypothalamic tanycytes of the Siberian hamster. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 296: R1307-R1315, 2009. First published March 13, 2009; doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.90755.2008.- In the Siberian hamster, seasonal weight loss occurs gradually over many weeks during autumn and winter. This is driven by a regulatory mechanism that is able to integrate duration of exposure to short days (SDs) with the size of body energy reserves. After food restriction in SDs, followed by ad libitum refeeding, body weight of the hamster does not return to its former level; rather, it increases to a level defined by the length of time spent in SDs. In this report, we show that components of the thyroid hormone system that are involved in seasonal weight loss change expression in response to 48 h of starvation. Eight weeks in an SD photoperiod induced weight loss in the Siberian hamster. In the hypothalamus of these hamsters, type II deiodinase expression was decreased and type III deiodinase expression was induced, but there was no change in hypothalamic neuropeptide Y or thyrotropin-releasing hormone gene expression. For the first time, we show that the thyroid hormone transporter monocarboxylate transporter 8 is expressed in tanycytes and is increased in response to an SD photoperiod. Food restriction (48 h of starvation) reversed the direction of gene expression change for type II and III deiodinase and monocarboxylate transporter 8 induced by SD photoperiods. Furthermore, fasting increased neuropeptide Y expression and decreased thyrotropin-releasing hormone expression. VGF, a gene upregulated in SDs in the dorsal region of the medial posterior area of the arcuate nucleus, was not changed by starvation. These data point to a mechanism whereby energy deprivation can interact with an SD photoperiod on hypothalamic tanycytes to regulate components of the thyroid hormone system involved in photoperiodic regulation of seasonal physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1307-R1315
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5
Early online date18 Mar 2009
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • deiodinases
  • monocarboxylate transporter 8
  • weight reduction
  • short-day photoperiod
  • thyroprotein-releasing-hormone
  • messenger-ribonucleic-acid
  • type-2 deiodinase gene
  • phodopus-sungorus
  • djungarian-hamsters
  • arcuate nucleus
  • body-weight
  • daily torpor
  • food-deprivation
  • rat hypothalamus

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