Yolk testosterone reduces oxidative damages during postnatal development

Noguera, J.C., Alonso-Alvarez, C., Kim, S.Y., Morales, J. & Velando, A., 2011. Yolk testosterone reduces oxidative damages during postnatal development. Biology letters, 7(1), pp.93-95.


Conditions experienced during early life can influence the development of an organism and several physiological traits, even in adulthood. An important factor is the level of oxidative stress experienced during early life. In birds, extra-genomic egg substances, such as the testosterone hormone, may exert a widespread influence over the offspring phenotype. Interestingly, testosterone can also upregulate the bioavailability of certain antioxidants but simultaneously increases the susceptibility to oxidative stress in adulthood. However, little is known about the effects of maternally derived yolk testosterone on oxidative stress in developing birds. Here, we investigated the role of yolk testosterone on oxidative stress of yellow-legged gull chicks during their early development by experimentally increasing yolk testosterone levels. Levels of antioxidants, reactive oxygen species and lipid oxidative damage were determined in plasma during nestlings’ growth. Our results revealed that, contrary to control chicks, birds hatched from testosterone-treated eggs did not show an increase in the levels of oxidative damage during postnatal development. Moreover, the same birds showed a transient increase in plasma antioxidant levels. Our results suggest that yolk testosterone may shape the oxidative stress-resistance phenotype of the chicks during early development owing to an increase in antioxidant defences and repair processes.

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