Maternal melatonin influences rates of somatic and reproductive organs postnatal development of male rat offspring.

  Vol. 20 (1-2) 1999 Neuro endocrinology letters Journal Article   1999; 20(1-2): 69-76 PubMed PMID:  11473232    Citation

: Female rat dams, housed in 12L:12D photoperiod, were pinealectomized or injected daily 1(1/2) h before onset of darkness with 250 mg melatonin/100 g BW., during pregnancy; control and pinealectomized dams received a placebo. Somatic, reproductive organs and gonadotropins levels luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) of male offspring were examined at the following phases of their sexual development: neonate, infantile, juvenile or prepubertal and pubertal periods. Pinealectomy of the mother produced an altered developmental pattern in the offspring (PIN-X offspring). During the infantile period when pups are lacking maternal melatonin and their own melatonin rhythm is not yet established, a delayed growth of body and testis weights was observed. After the second week of life, from 15 to 25 days of age, coinciding with the initiation of the melatonin rhythm, a speed-up growth of body and testes was observed, followed by a delayed growth from 25 to 30 days, in the juvenile period; this also coinciding with reduced LH levels observed at 30 days of age. Indeed, in PIN-X offspring significantly greater growth rate was observed during the pubertal period than in control offspring, which could be due to the increase in LH secretion up to normal values observed in the PIN-X offspring. Seminal vesicles of the PIN-X offspring also showed delayed growth, which was overcome at the pubertal period. Melatonin (MEL) treatment during pregnancy produced minor alterations in postnatal development of the reproductive tract. Only increased pituitary gland weight was observed at 15 and decreased at 25 days of age. At 25 days of age, MEL offspring reached the highest LH values, and at 30 days of age, PIN-X offspring still show low values. Which suggests that other factors than the endocrine activity of the gland are affecting the somatic growth of the pituitary gland. Seminal vesicles weight was delayed at 25 days of age in the MEL offspring. These results indicate that maternal melatonin is necessary for a normal somatic growth and postnatal development of reproductive organs of the offspring.

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