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Sex-specific effects of prenatal testosterone on nestling plasma antioxidant capacity in the zebra finch.

Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 89-94
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Experimental Biology
Volym: 212
Nummer: 1
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: The Company of Biologists Ltd


Trans-generational transfer of non-genetic, maternal resources such as hormones can have a substantial influence on offspring phenotype in many vertebrate species. In birds, maternal androgens enhance both growth and competitive behaviour, but also suppress the immune system. It has been hypothesised that high levels of egg androgens could also influence the prooxidant-antioxidant balance through their positive effect on growth and metabolism. We tested this hypothesis in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Eggs were injected with testosterone dissolved in sesame oil or sesame oil only (control). We subsequently assessed the effect of the egg hormone manipulation on nestling growth and nestling plasma total antioxidant capacity (TAC). Growth rates of zebra finch nestlings were not significantly affected by egg hormone treatment. However, male offspring hatched from eggs with experimentally elevated testosterone had reduced plasma TAC at 10 days of age compared with male offspring hatching from control eggs. At the age of 34 days, males had similar plasma TAC irrespective of egg treatment. No effects of egg testosterone manipulation on nestling plasma TAC were found in females. Our results demonstrate that embryonic exposure to elevated levels of testosterone modulates chick antioxidant status, but this seems to be independent of chick growth. Sex-specific effects of prenatal testosterone on plasma TAC of zebra finch nestlings may have important consequences for sex allocation.


  • Biological Sciences
  • maternal effects
  • antioxidants
  • hormones
  • early development


  • ISSN: 1477-9145

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