The effect of high ambient temperature (34‡C) on the function of the female reproductive system, on embryonic development and on outcome of pregnancy, was investigated in heat-exposed sham-operated (Sh) and pinealectomized (Px) golden hamsters maintained under short photoperiod. Plasma prolactin levels were reduced in both heat-exposed groups (ShH and PxH) but pituitary prolactin was increased in the pinealectomized groups irrespective of ambient temperature (21 or 34 ‡C). Pituitary weights and LH contents were not affected in any test group. Heat exposure brought about a reduction in the number of corpora lutea and of pups born, the latter being more drastically reduced in absence of the pineal; the depressant effect of heat on ovarian weight was evident only in the pinealectomized animals. Progesterone levels were not affected in any test group and pregnancy was not prolonged, thus, it would seem that pregnant hamsters adapt themselves well to heat. Moreover, high ambient temperature promoted a rise in pineal HIOMT activity and boosted cortisol levels in presence of the pineal gland only, which, together with the above findings, shows that the pineal can provide protection for pregnant hamsters against adverse effects of high ambient temperature.
- high temperature