The suppressor of cytokine signalling 3, SOCS3, may be one critical modulator of seasonal body weight changes in the Siberian hamster, Phodopus sungorus

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The Siberian hamster, Phodopus sungorus, exhibits a remarkable cycle of body weight, reproduction and leptin sensitivity in response to a seasonal change in photoperiod. In the present study, we investigated the hypothesis that the suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 (SOCS3) plays a critical role in the regulation of the seasonal body weight cycle. We analysed arcuate nucleus SOCS3 gene expression in short day length (SD; 8 : 16 h light/dark) acclimated Siberian hamsters that were transferred back to long day length (LD; 16 : 8 h light/dark) and in hamsters that spontaneously became photorefractory to SD induced by prolonged exposure. SD acclimated hamsters that were transferred back to LD for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 weeks, increased arcuate nucleus SOCS3 gene expression to the LD level within 2 weeks, and maintained this higher level thereafter. The early increase of SOCS3 gene expression preceded the LD-induced rise in body weight by approximately 3 weeks. Hamsters kept in SD for an extended period (25 weeks), began to become refractory to SD and to increase body weight. By this time, there was no difference in level of SOCS3 gene expression between LD and SD photoperiods, although body weight was still suppressed in SD hamsters. Finally, we addressed whether SOCS3 gene expression is related to SD-induced gonadal regression or to body weight decrease by comparing Siberian hamsters with Syrian hamsters. The latter exhibited substantial SD-induced gonadal regression but only limited seasonal changes in body weight. Acclimation to either LD or SD for 14 weeks had no effect on SOCS3 gene expression. This implies that arcuate nucleus SOCS3 gene expression is unlikely to be related to seasonal cycles in reproductive activity. Taken together, the findings further strengthen our hypothesis that SOCS3 may be one molecular trigger of seasonal cycles in body weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • leptin
  • photorefractoriness
  • reproductive quiescence
  • photoperiod
  • Siberian hamster
  • hypothalamic arcuate nucleus
  • diet-induced obesity
  • gene-expression
  • photoperiodic regulation
  • leptin sensitivity
  • tyrosine phosphorylation
  • Djungarian hamster
  • Syrian-hamsters
  • messenger-RNA
  • receptor

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