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ASSESSMENT OF CORTISOL AND DHEA CONCENTRATIONS IN THE GRIFFON VULTURE (Gyps fulvus) FEATHERS TO EVALUATE ITS HEALTH CONDITION
Gian Nicola Frongia, Tanja Peric, Marco Muzzeddu, Fiammetta Berlinguer, Giovanni Leoni, Valentina Satta, Cristina Bergamin, Marcello Franchini, Antonella Comin, Salvatore Naitana, Alberto Prandi, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: During their life, birds face several challenges which can threaten the stability of physiological functions. These situations typically trigger a cascade of endocrine secretions involving the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, and resulting in the release of both cortisol and corticosterone also in birds. The use of a non-invasive approach to collect samples of biological material derived from natural populations represents a greatly combination for an improvement of knowledge avoiding handling animals. Steroid concentrations in feathers are mainly acquired from the capillary around the follicle during the long period of feather grown reflecting their bloodstream concentrations. Accordingly, a chronic HPA axis activation could be assessed using molted feathers cortisol concentrations. Another hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is secreted by adrenals and it could be assessed in molted feathers. This study was aimed to evaluate the feasibility of using feathers cortisol and DHEA concentrations to provide a retrospective assessment of the activity of the HPA axis in griffon vulture acquired for health monitoring purposes. For this, we introduced two groups of animals with a known health condition: one group composed by griffons that have experienced a long-term physiologically compromised period (PC group; n=8) and the other group composed by griffons physiologically not compromised (CTRL group; n=9). The feathers cortisol and DHEA analyses were carried out using RIA [1,2] adapted for feathers. The results revealed different feather hormone concentrations between the two groups of animals. The feathers cortisol had a median value higher in the PC group than in the CTRL group, with cortisol concentrations showing a central value 1.6 times higher in those animals that suffered a long-term physiological impairment. The PC group showed also (Kruskal- Wallis test) higher feather concentrations of DHEA (P=0.01) than the CTRL group. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to examine the associations between cortisol and DHEA, showing no correlation between cortisol and DHEA feather concentrations in the PC group (r=0.18, P=0.34) and a moderate positive correlation in the CTRL group (r=0.51, P=0.011). In conclusion, our study reveals that molted feathers can be an interesting way to evaluate the physiological status of wild animals by using a non-invasive approach. Our analyses reveal that in addition to cortisol also DHEA could be evaluated to better understand the relationships between these hormones and to determine the resilience condition of wild species.
Found in: osebi
Keywords: CORTISOL, DHEA, GRIFFON VULTURE, Gyps fulvus, FEATHER
Published: 09.04.2019; Views: 709; Downloads: 0
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