Pheromone-induced anorexia in male Syrian hamsters

Caurnel Morgan, Henryk F. Urbanski, Wei Fan, Huda Akil, Roger D. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Transition from long days (LDs) to short days (SDs) triggers seasonal obesity in Syrian hamsters. We report here that SD-exposed males housed near females exhibit obesity resistance, episodic weight loss, and reduced adiposity. Negative energy balance is achieved by reduced eating, elevated motor activity, and increased caloric efficiency without metabolic compensation. Circulating leptin, insulin, testosterone, corticosterone, and cortisol are normal or reduced in obesity-resistant hamsters. When males are housed in chambers that block physical, visual, and auditory, but not pheromonal, signals from females, resistance to seasonal obesity persists. Moreover, inhalation of extracts from pheromone-releasing flank glands of females suppresses eating and weight gain in SD-exposed males. This novel phenomenon, pheromone-induced anorexia, shows that female pheromones play a critical role in the seasonal energy balance of male hamsters. These findings provide a model to study neural and endocrine mechanisms that underlie eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1028-E1038
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5 48-5
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Hypercaloric
  • Hypocaloric
  • Locomotor activity
  • Mesocricetus auratus
  • Oxygen consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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