Hair Color, Molt, and Testis Size in Male, Short-Tailed Weasels Treated with Melatonin

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Science  29 Aug 1969:
Vol. 165, Issue 3896, pp. 921-922
DOI: 10.1126/science.165.3896.921


Melatonin in beeswax was implanted in male weasels (Mustela erminea). Brown weasels and white animals undergoing the spring change to the brown pelage and reproductive activity molted, grew a new white coat, and became reproductively quiescent after treatment. Controls retained or acquired the brown coat and developed or maintained enlarged testes. Treated weasels with pituitary autografts under the kidney capsule grew brown hair after hair growth was initiated by plucking. It is suggested that the pineal gland product, melatonin, initiates changes in the central nervous system and endocrines which result in molting, growth of the white winter pelage, and reproductive quiescence in the weasel.

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