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Short- and long-term consequences of prenatal testosterone for immune function: an experimental study in the zebra finch

Tobler, Michael LU ; Hasselquist, Dennis LU ; Smith, Henrik LU and Sandell, Maria LU (2010) In Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64(5). p.717-727
Abstract
Hormone-mediated maternal effects play an important role in the formation of a differentiated phenotype. They have been shown to influence a wide array of offspring traits, both early in life and in adulthood. One important offspring trait that is under the influence of maternal androgens is the immune system. In birds, a growing number of studies show that yolk androgens modulate immune function during the chick stage. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding long-term effects of prenatal androgens on offspring immunity. In this study, we therefore investigated the influence of prenatal testosterone (T) on several measures of immunity in fledgling and adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Cell-mediated immune response (towards... (More)
Hormone-mediated maternal effects play an important role in the formation of a differentiated phenotype. They have been shown to influence a wide array of offspring traits, both early in life and in adulthood. One important offspring trait that is under the influence of maternal androgens is the immune system. In birds, a growing number of studies show that yolk androgens modulate immune function during the chick stage. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding long-term effects of prenatal androgens on offspring immunity. In this study, we therefore investigated the influence of prenatal testosterone (T) on several measures of immunity in fledgling and adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Cell-mediated immune response (towards phytohaemagglutinin, PHA) of fledglings hatching from control eggs was negatively related to brood size, whereas there was no such association for fledglings hatching from eggs with experimentally elevated T levels (T fledglings). Male control fledglings showed reduced mass gain compared to female control fledglings within 24 h after the PHA injection. This pattern was reversed in T fledglings. Total antibody levels in fledglings were not affected by egg treatment. Neither cell-mediated immunity nor total antibody levels in sexually mature zebra finches were influenced by egg treatment. However, there was an immuno-enhancing effect of elevated egg T on both primary and secondary humoral immune responses toward diphtheria and tetanus antigens in ca 5 and 7 month old zebra finches. In addition, the covariation between different immune components differed between T and control offspring, suggesting that egg treatment may have altered the potential trade-offs between different parts of the immune system. Our results suggest that prenatal androgens could be an important factor contributing to individual variation in immune function even in adulthood. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Maternal effects, Life history, Immune function, Testosterone
in
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
volume
64
issue
5
pages
717 - 727
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000275631100002
  • scopus:77950535561
ISSN
1432-0762
DOI
10.1007/s00265-009-0889-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9308b5ff-7dc4-49ac-bec5-02bc69e17204 (old id 1588130)
date added to LUP
2010-04-22 10:35:54
date last changed
2018-05-29 10:35:02
@article{9308b5ff-7dc4-49ac-bec5-02bc69e17204,
  abstract     = {Hormone-mediated maternal effects play an important role in the formation of a differentiated phenotype. They have been shown to influence a wide array of offspring traits, both early in life and in adulthood. One important offspring trait that is under the influence of maternal androgens is the immune system. In birds, a growing number of studies show that yolk androgens modulate immune function during the chick stage. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding long-term effects of prenatal androgens on offspring immunity. In this study, we therefore investigated the influence of prenatal testosterone (T) on several measures of immunity in fledgling and adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Cell-mediated immune response (towards phytohaemagglutinin, PHA) of fledglings hatching from control eggs was negatively related to brood size, whereas there was no such association for fledglings hatching from eggs with experimentally elevated T levels (T fledglings). Male control fledglings showed reduced mass gain compared to female control fledglings within 24 h after the PHA injection. This pattern was reversed in T fledglings. Total antibody levels in fledglings were not affected by egg treatment. Neither cell-mediated immunity nor total antibody levels in sexually mature zebra finches were influenced by egg treatment. However, there was an immuno-enhancing effect of elevated egg T on both primary and secondary humoral immune responses toward diphtheria and tetanus antigens in ca 5 and 7 month old zebra finches. In addition, the covariation between different immune components differed between T and control offspring, suggesting that egg treatment may have altered the potential trade-offs between different parts of the immune system. Our results suggest that prenatal androgens could be an important factor contributing to individual variation in immune function even in adulthood.},
  author       = {Tobler, Michael and Hasselquist, Dennis and Smith, Henrik and Sandell, Maria},
  issn         = {1432-0762},
  keyword      = {Maternal effects,Life history,Immune function,Testosterone},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {717--727},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
  title        = {Short- and long-term consequences of prenatal testosterone for immune function: an experimental study in the zebra finch},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00265-009-0889-0},
  volume       = {64},
  year         = {2010},
}