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Acute stress induces a rapid increase of testosterone in a songbird: implications for plasma testosterone sampling

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Testosterone (T) and glucocorticoids, such as corticosterone, have both been shown to be important for the way vertebrates in general, and birds specifically, react to their immediate environment. For both corticosterone and T, many sources of variation in plasma levels have been demonstrated. Interestingly, a small number of studies on bird species have indicated that acute stress can have a positive effect on plasma T levels, analogous to what has been observed for plasma corticosterone levels. Using captive male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), we provide the first evidence in songbirds of a (twofold) increase in plasma T levels after the onset of acute stress, as elicited with a capture-handling-restraint method, when comparing plasma T levels during the first 4 min with plasma T levels between 12 and 33 min. Furthermore, no significant change in plasma T levels was observed within the first 4 min after the onset of acute stress. Notably, although plasma corticosterone was also significantly elevated, the stress-induced change in levels of corticosterone and T were not significantly correlated. Our findings indicate that, when measuring plasma T levels, it may be essential to use a standardized method with fast capture and blood sampling (i.e. within 34 min), similar to the method for corticosterone sampling. Furthermore, it is necessary for future studies to examine the effect of using different capture techniques on measured plasma T levels, which may be of particular importance when interpreting T samples gathered in field studies.
Journal: General and Comparative Endocrinology
ISSN: 0016-6480
Volume: 168
Pages: 505 - 510
Publication year:2010
Keywords:Endocrinology & metabolism