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Weil, Z. M., Borniger, J. C., Cisse, Y. M., Abi Salloum, B. A., & Nelson, R. J. (2014). Neuroendocrine control of photoperiodic changes in immune function. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 37, 108–118.
Abstract: Seasonal variation in immune function putatively maximizes survival and reproductive success. Day length (photoperiod) is the most potent signal for time of year. Animals typically organize breeding, growth, and behavior to adapt to spatial and temporal niches. Outside the tropics individuals monitor photoperiod to support adaptations favoring survival and reproductive success. Changes in day length allow anticipation of seasonal changes in temperature and food availability that are critical for reproductive success. Immune function is typically bolstered during winter, whereas reproduction and growth are favored during summer. We provide an overview of how photoperiod influences neuronal function and melatonin secretion, how melatonin acts directly and indirectly to govern seasonal changes in immune function, and the manner by which other neuroendocrine effectors such as glucocorticoids, prolactin, thyroid, and sex steroid hormones modulate seasonal variations in immune function. Potential future research avenues include commensal gut microbiota and light pollution influences on photoperiodic responses.