Effects of testosterone and corticosterone on immunocompetence in the zebra finch

Roberts, Mark L., Buchanan, Katherine L., Hasselquist, Dennis and Evans, Matthew R. 2007, Effects of testosterone and corticosterone on immunocompetence in the zebra finch, Hormones and behavior, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 126-134.

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Title Effects of testosterone and corticosterone on immunocompetence in the zebra finch
Author(s) Roberts, Mark L.
Buchanan, Katherine L.
Hasselquist, Dennis
Evans, Matthew R.
Journal name Hormones and behavior
Volume number 51
Issue number 1
Start page 126
End page 134
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2007-01
ISSN 0018-506X
1095-6867
Keyword(s) corticosterone
diphtheria:tetanus
PHA
immunocompetence handicap hypothesis
stress
immunocompetence
zebra finch
glucocorticoid
testosterone
Summary The original immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) suggested that testosterone has a handicapping effect in males by both promoting the development of sexual signals and suppressing immune function. A modified version, the stress-linked ICHH, has recently proposed that testosterone is immunosuppressive indirectly by increasing production of corticosterone. To test both the original and stress-mediated versions of the ICHH, we implanted male zebra finches taken from lines selected for divergent maximum stress-induced levels of corticosterone (high, low and control) with either empty or testosterone-filled implants. Their humoral and cell-mediated immune responses were then assessed by challenge with diphtheria:tetanus vaccine and phytohemagglutinin respectively. We found no effect of the hormone manipulations on either PHA or tetanus antibody responses, but found a significant interaction between titers of both testosterone and corticosterone on diphtheria secondary antibody response; antibody response was greatest in individuals with high levels of both hormones. There was also a significant interactive effect between testosterone treatment group and corticosterone titer on body mass; the body mass of males in the elevated testosterone treatment group decreased with increasing corticosterone titer. These results suggest that, contrary to the assumption of the stress-mediated version of the ICHH, high plasma levels of corticosterone are not immunosuppressive, but are in fact immuno-enhancing in the presence of high levels of plasma testosterone. Equally, the central assumption of the ICHH that testosterone is obligately immunosuppressive is also not supported. The same individuals with the highest levels of both hormones and consequently the most robust antibody response also possessed the lowest body mass.
Language eng
Field of Research 060804 Animal Immunology
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, Elsevier
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30018498

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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