In European newborn rabbits, once-daily nursing acts as a strong non-photic entraining cue for the pre-visual circadian system. Nevertheless, there is a lack of information regarding which of the non-photic cues are capable of modulating pup circadian system. In this study, for the first time, we determined that the mammary pheromone 2-methylbut-2-enal (2MB2) presented in the maternal milk acts as a non-photic entraining cue. We evaluated the effect of once-daily exposure to maternal olfactory cues on the temporal pattern of core body temperature, gross locomotor activity and metabolic variables (liver weight, serum glucose, triacylglycerides, free fatty acids, cholecystokinin and cholesterol levels) in newborn rabbits. Rabbit pups were separated from their mothers from postnatal day 1 (P1) to P8 and were randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: nursed by a lactating doe (NAT); exposed to a 3-min pulse of maternal milk (M-Milk), mammary pheromone (2MB2), or water (H?O). To eliminate maternal stimulation, the pups of the last three groups were artificially fed once every 24-h. On P8, the rabbits were sacrificed at different times of the day. In temperature and activity, the NAT, M-Milk and 2MB2 groups exhibited clear diurnal rhythmicity with a conspicuous anticipatory rise hours prior to nursing. In contrast, the H?O group exhibited atypical rhythmicity in both parameters, lacking the anticipatory component. At the metabolic level, all of the groups exhibited a diurnal pattern with similar phases in liver weight and metabolites examined. The results obtained in this study suggest that during pre-visual stages of development, the circadian system of newborn rabbits is sensitive to the maternal olfactory cues contained in milk, indicating that these cues function as non-photic entraining signals mainly for the central oscillators regulating the expression of temperature and behavior, whereas in metabolic diurnal rhythmicity, these cues lack an effect, indicating that peripheral oscillators respond to milk administration.
The antiprogestin mifepristone (RU 486) is used for termination of pregnancy, as RU 486 blocks the quiescent action of progesterone, increases uterine contractility, sensitizes the myometrium to prostaglandins, and elicits cervical ripening. Since RU 486 represents a class of compound that is structurally related to steroid hormones, some of which possess a nongenomic uterine relaxing effect, we investigated the potential nongenomic relaxing action of RU 486 on the human pregnant myometrium. Myometrial tissues were obtained from pregnant women undergoing elective cesarean section at term and were isometrically recorded. RU 486 caused relaxation on spontaneous contractility and high potassium-induced contractions with lower relaxing efficacy than progesterone. The progesterone receptor-blocking activity of RU 486 did not antagonize the uterine relaxation of progesterone. Moreover, contractions induced by oxytocin or different prostaglandins (PGF(2alpha), PGE(2), and a prostaglandin analogue, misoprostol) were inhibited rather than increased by RU 486. RU 486 induced a rapid and reversible relaxing effect, which was unaffected by inhibitors of protein synthesis and transcription, implying that RU 486 acts through a nongenomic mechanism. This study reveals that RU 486: (i) reduced high potassium-induced contraction and prevented calcium-induced contraction in depolarized tissue; and (ii) relaxed the oxytocin- and prostaglandin-induced contractions, indicating a blockade of voltage- and receptor-operated calcium channels by RU 486. These data show that this antiprogestin may induce a rapid nongenomic antiuterotonic effect prior to its antiprogesterone action.
During the last decade, lagomorphs have gained relevance as valuable models for the study of the development of circadian rhythmicity. This relevance is due to both the peculiar behavior of the lactating doe, in which maternal care is limited from 3 to 5 min per day, and the temporal organization that newborn rabbits exhibit during the early stages of development. In this study, we characterized the development of the temporal pattern of core body temperature and locomotor activity of newborn rabbits. This activity was recorded simultaneously for individual newborn rabbits and was maintained under constant light conditions, a 24-h nursing schedule and without access to the lactating doe. In addition, different mathematical algorithms were designed to determine the period, phase and anticipatory component of the time series obtained for the newborn rabbits. During the first two weeks of life, the average gross locomotor activity decreased as age increased; conversely however, the core body temperature exhibited a significant increment during the early stages of postnatal development. The newborn rabbits circadian patterns of activity and temperature were consolidated as early as the first week of life. Similarly, the acrophase and nadir of both rhythms were settled by postnatal day 5, and the maximum activity consistently occurred approximately 2 h before the animals maximum body temperature. The anticipation of nursing was evident from postnatal day 2 for both parameters, and the duration and intensity showed changes associated with the stage of development. In addition, the anticipatory component persisted with the same duration and intensity, even when nursing was omitted. The mathematical methods used in this study are suitable for producing unbiased analyses of the time series that are obtained from developing animals in situations during which biological signals generally show variability in frequencies and trends. By using these methods, it was possible to establish that circadian rhythmicity at the behavioral and physiological levels was evident during the first week of age in newborn rabbits. This circadian rhythmicity represents an endogenous rhythm because it persists throughout constant conditions.
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