The synthesis and secretion of many hormones such as growth hormone (GH), melatonin, and corticosterone, exhibit temporal variations over each day and night. Oral administration of several nutritional factors, including l-ornithine, modulates these hormonal secretions and induces an acute increase in plasma GH levels. However, the impact of l-ornithine on the diurnal rhythms of hormone secretion remains unclear. In this study, we evaluated whether the diurnal rhythms of plasma GH, melatonin, and corticosterone secretion were altered by the daily administration of l-ornithine as well as the timing of the administration, in CBA/N mice. Our results showed that the plasma GH levels that peaked at light phase were amplified by l-ornithine (500mg/kg) administered at Zeitgeber time (ZT) 22, but not at ZT10. Additionally, l-ornithine (1000mg/kg) administered at ZT22 advanced the onset of the nocturnal rise of melatonin, which resulted in the elongation of the melatonin peak. On the other hand, l-ornithine (500 and 1000mg/kg) administered at ZT10, but not at ZT22, suppressed the diurnal rhythm peaks of plasma corticosterone. The effects of l-ornithine on plasma GH rhythms lasted for at least 2 days after cessation of the daily administration. Running wheel activity during the active phase was slightly elevated by l-ornithine administration at ZT22, but the overall patterns were only slightly affected. l-Ornithine levels in the plasma and hypophysis after a single administration of l-ornithine at ZT22 were lower than those after administration at ZT10, suggesting that the metabolic rate of l-ornithine differs between day and night. In conclusion, our data suggest that a daily administration of l-ornithine regulates the diurnal rhythms of GH, melatonin, and corticosterone in a manner dependent on administration time, which might be related to the diurnal rhythms of l-ornithine metabolism.
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