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Maternal corticosterone elevation during egg formation in chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) influences offspring traits, partly via prenatal undernutrition
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. University of Groningen, Netherlands .
University of Vet Med, Austria .
University of Groningen, Netherlands .
2013 (English)In: General and Comparative Endocrinology, ISSN 0016-6480, E-ISSN 1095-6840, Vol. 191, 83-91 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy in humans and the subsequent physical and mental health disorders in their children has inspired a wide array of studies on animal models. Almost all of these studies have used mammalian species, but more recently oviparous species in which the embryo develops outside the mothers body have received more attention. These new models facilitate disentangling of the underlying mechanism due to the accessibility of the prenatal environment, the egg. Studies in birds have found that maternal stress during egg formation induces phenotypic alterations in the offspring that hatch from these eggs. However, different offspring traits have been measured in different studies and potential underlying mechanisms are barely addressed. In this study we experimentally manipulated maternal corticosterone levels in laying hens. We found that mothers with experimentally elevated plasma corticosterone levels produced offspring that are smaller at hatching, less competitive, less fearful, have lower immunocompetence and higher plasma testosterone levels, as well as an alteration of visually guided behavioural lateralization. Earlier we have showed that eggs produced by these corticosterone treated mothers were lighter and contained lower concentrations of testosterone and progesterone in the yolk. While yolk hormones showed no correlation with any offspring traits, egg mass correlated positively with offsprings body mass from hatching until 10 days of age and hatching mass correlated positively with the offsprings ability to compete for food, indicating that prenatal under nutrition might mediate some effects of maternal stress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2013. Vol. 191, 83-91 p.
Keyword [en]
Prenatal environment, Visual lateralization, Plasma testosterone, Immunocompetence, Food competition, Tonic immobility
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-98141DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.05.028ISI: 000323870400010OAI: diva2:652299
Available from: 2013-09-30 Created: 2013-09-30 Last updated: 2013-09-30

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