Exercise inhibits reproductive quiescence induced by exogenous melatonin in hamsters

Voluntary exercise inhibits the reproductive regression associated with a short photoperiod in male or female hamsters. The question addressed by the present study was whether exercise would also attenuate the reproductive regression associated with injection of exogenous melatonin. In male hamsters exercise inhibited the testicular regression, decline in gonadotropin secretion, and reduction in testosterone release associated with two daily injections (15 micrograms) of melatonin in pinealectomized hamsters on long days. After the reproductive system of the sedentary melatonin group had regressed, one-half of these hamsters were placed in cages with exercise wheels. Access to the exercise wheels stimulated testicular recrudescence and restored gonadotropin secretion to levels found in vehicle-injected hamsters. Sedentary female hamsters injected with melatonin tended to go into a state of constant diestrus associated with daily afternoon increases in serum luteinizing hormone, whereas most exercising hamsters injected with melatonin generally continued having regular estrous cycles with proestrus luteinizing-hormone surges. The ability of exercise to inhibit the effect of exogenous melatonin in pinealectomized hamsters suggests that exercise acts, at least in part, by mechanisms other than altering melatonin secretion.