Microdialysis sampling was used to measure the glutamate level (GLU) contained in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in 10 pregnant and 10 non-pregnant, subjected to either a 16:8 h light-dark cycle or a 12 h advanced photoperiod. Results revealed that GLU levels were significantly greater in samples taken for 2 h (15 min intervals), ?60, ?45 and ?30 min before parturition (P<0.009, P<0.04, P<0.02), and +45 and +60 min after birth (P<0.009, P<0.05) respectively, in pregnant rabbits subjects to a 16:8 LD photoperiod (with light from 6:00-22:00 h). Parturition in these animals occurred at day 31 of gestation. Pregnant rabbits exposed to 12 h advanced photoperiod showed lower GLU levels in the SCN, and a longer gestation period and parturition process. In non-pregnant rabbits the GLU levels in the SCN were also significantly higher (P<0.009, in all samples) in comparison with rabbits subjected to the 12 h shifted photoperiod. It is possible that the photoperiod may have influenced GLU levels, and consequently, the length of gestation, the number of young and the time of birth. However, further studies involving new biotechnologies and a greater number of animals are needed to confirm these results.
photoperiod; pregnancy; suprachiasmatic nucleus; glutamate; rabbits