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Growth and innate immunity are not limited by selection for high egg testosterone content in Japanese quail.

Posted by on in 2012
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Kankova Z1Zeman MOkuliarova M. 2012. J Exp Biol. 215(Pt 4):617-22. doi: 10.1242/jeb.064030.



The effects of maternal androgens on fitness-related traits of offspring are generally assumed to be epigenetic adaptations to the environment that may be encountered by the next generation. Possible constraints of high yolk androgen transfer are still not understood, although a suppressed immune response in offspring is frequently considered. The aim of our study was to examine the innate immune defence in high (HET) and low egg testosterone (LET) lines of Japanese quail, which differ in the hormonal milieu of their eggs, thus providing a good physiological model for the study of androgen-mediated maternal effects. Acute phase response was induced by a lipopolysaccharide injection in 12-day-old quail and plasma corticosterone and the heterophil:lymphocyte ratio were measured at 1 and 3 h post-treatment. Basal levels of non-specific antibodies (IgY) were determined in the circulation. We found that HET quail were heavier than LET quail from the second week of age, indicating enhanced post-hatching growth. At 1 h post-lipopolysaccharide challenge, plasma corticosterone concentrations increased in the HET but not in the LET line. The heterophil:lymphocyte ratio rose in both lines at 3 h post-immune challenge, with a more pronounced response in HET quail. Moreover, HET chicks displayed higher IgY levels than LET chicks, suggesting either enhanced passive immunoprotection or stimulated endogenous antibody production. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that the genetic selection for high egg testosterone content positively influences growth and, simultaneously, does not limit the acute phase response in young quail.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 
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