Mistimed restricted feeding disrupts circadian rhythms of male mating behavior and female preovulatory LH surges in mice

Ayaka Kukino, Thijs J. Walbeek, Lori J. Sun, Alexander T. Watt, Jin Ho Park, Alexander S. Kauffman, Matthew P. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In rodents, eating at atypical circadian times, such as during the biological rest phase when feeding is normally minimal, reduces fertility. Prior findings suggest this fertility impairment is due, at least in part, to reduced mating success. However, the physiological and behavioral mechanisms underlying this reproductive suppression are not known. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that mistimed feeding-induced infertility is due to a disruption in the normal circadian timing of mating behavior and/or the generation of pre-ovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surges (estrogen positive feedback). In the first experiment, male+female mouse pairs, acclimated to be food restricted to either the light (mistimed feeding) or dark (control feeding) phase, were scored for mounting frequency and ejaculations over 96 h. Male mounting behavior and ejaculations were distributed much more widely across the day in light-fed mice than in dark-fed controls and fewer light-fed males ejaculated. In the second experiment, the timing of the LH surge, a well characterized circadian event driven by estradiol (E2) and the SCN, was analyzed from serial blood samples taken from ovariectomized and E2-primed female mice that were light-, dark-, or ad-lib-fed. LH concentrations peaked 2 h after lights-off in both dark-fed and ad-lib control females, as expected, but not in light-fed females. Instead, the normally clustered LH surges were distributed widely with high inter-mouse variability in the light-fed group. These data indicate that mistimed feeding disrupts the temporal control of the neural processes underlying both ovulation and mating behavior, contributing to infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105242
JournalHormones and Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Circadian
  • GnRH
  • LH surge
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Positive feedback
  • Reproduction
  • Reproductive behavior
  • Sex behavior
  • TRF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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