Early stress causes sex-specific, life-long changes in behaviour, levels of gonadal hormones, and gene expression in chickens
2015 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 10, no 5, e0125808Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Early stress can have long-lasting phenotypic effects. Previous research shows that male and female chickens differ in many behavioural aspects, and respond differently to chronic stress. The present experiment aimed to broadly characterize long-term sex differences in responses to brief events of stress experienced during the first weeks of life. Chicks from a commercial egg-laying hybrid were exposed to stress by inducing periods of social isolation during their first three weeks of life, followed by a broad behavioural, physiological and genomic characterization throughout life. Early stressed males, but not females, where more anxious in an open field-test, stayed shorter in tonic immobility and tended to have delayed sexual maturity, as shown by a tendency for lower levels of testosterone compared to controls. While early stressed females did not differ from non-stressed in fear and sexual maturation, they were more socially dominant than controls. The differential gene expression profile in hypothalamus was significantly correlated from 28 to 213 days of age in males, but not in females. In conclusion, early stress had a more pronounced long-term effect on male than on female chickens, as evidenced by behavioral, endocrine and genomic responses. This may either be attributed to inherent sex differences due to evolutionary causes, or possibly to different stress related selection pressures on the two sexes during commercial chicken breeding.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2015. Vol. 10, no 5, e0125808
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117423DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125808ISI: 000354916100036OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-117423DiVA: diva2:808033