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In many birds reproduction is triggered by long daylengths but, paradoxically, continued exposure to long days leads to photorefractoriness and a complete shut down of the reproductive system. As these effects are thought to be mediated through the secretion of LH-RH, immunocytochemical techniques were used to investigate changes in the LH-RH system when European starlings were exposed to different photoperiods. Starlings exposed to 11L:13D and with mature testes show strong immunostaining both of LH-RH perikarya and fibers. Photosensitive short-day (8L:16D) starlings with undeveloped testes show an almost identical distribution of strongly immunoreactive perikarya but with less dense fibre staining. However, long-day (18L:6D) photorefractory starlings with fully regressed testes, show a profound reduction in LH-RH immunostaining. Perikarya have the same distribution but show a much reduced intensity of staining and fibers had almost entirely disappeared from all regions of the brain. Preliminary observations on the ultrastructure of immunocytochemically identified LH-RH neurones are also reported.


Journal article


Basic Appl Histochem

Publication Date





95 - 102


Animals, Birds, Circadian Rhythm, Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone, Immunohistochemistry, Male, Neurons, Neuropeptides, Photoreceptor Cells, Refractory Period, Electrophysiological