Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology

Leuven, Belgium

Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology

Leuven, Belgium
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Ruuskanen S.,University of Turku | Ruuskanen S.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Darras V.M.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | de Vries B.,University of Groningen | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Avian Biology | Year: 2016

In birds, mothers can affect their offspring's phenotype and thereby survival via egg composition. It is not well known to what extent and time-scales environmental variation in resource availability, either via resource constrains or adaptive adjustment to predicted rearing conditions, influences maternal effects. We experimentally studied whether egg and yolk mass and yolk hormone levels respond to short-term changes in food availability during laying in wild great tits Parus major. Our treatment groups were: 1) food supplementation (mealworms) from the 1st until the last egg; 2) food supplementation from the 1st until the 5th egg, where the effect of cessation of the supplementary food treatment could also be studied; 3) no food supplementation (controls). We analysed both nutritional resources (egg, yolk and albumen mass), and the important developmental signals, yolk androgens (testosterone and androstenedione), and for the first time in a wild population, yolk thyroid hormones (thyroxine and 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine). Egg mass is a costly resource for females, androgens most likely non-costly signals, whereas thyroid hormones may be costly signals, requiring environmental iodine. In the food supplemented group egg, yolk and albumen mass increased rapidly relative to controls and when food supplementation was halted, egg and albumen mass decreased, indicating rapid responses to resource availability. Yolk androgen and thyroid hormone levels were not affected by food supplementation during laying. Thyroxine showed an increase over the laying sequence and its biological meaning needs further study. The rapid changes in egg mass to variation in within-clutch food availability suggest energetic/protein/nutrient constrains on egg formation. The lack of a response in yolk hormones suggest that perhaps in this species the short-term changes in resource availability during egg laying do not predict offspring rearing conditions, or (for thyroid hormones) do not cause systemic changes in circulating hormones, and hence do not affect maternal signaling. © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.


Ruuskanen S.,University of Turku | Ruuskanen S.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Groothuis T.G.G.,University of Groningen | Schaper S.V.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | And 3 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2016

Global warming has substantially changed the environment, but the mechanisms to cope with these changes in animals, including the role of maternal effects, are poorly understood. Maternal effects via hormones deposited in eggs, have important environment-dependent effects on offspring development and fitness: thus females are expected to adjust these hormones to the environment, such as the ambient temperature. Longer-term temperature variation could function as a cue, predicting chick rearing conditions to which yolk hormone levels are adjusted, while short-term temperature variation during egg formation may causally affect hormone transfer to eggs. We studied the effects of ambient temperature on yolk androgens (testosterone and androstenedione) and thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) in great tits (Parus major) using data from unmanipulated clutches from a wild population and from aviary birds (ad libitum food) exposed to different experimental temperature treatments during five years. Both in the wild and in captivity, longer-term pre-laying ambient temperature was not associated with clutch mean yolk hormone levels, while the way androstenedione and thyroxine levels varied across the laying sequence did associate with pre-laying temperature in the wild. Yolk testosterone levels were positively correlated with short-term temperature (during yolk formation) changes within clutches in both wild and captivity. We also report, for the first time in a wild bird, that yolk thyroxine levels correlated with a key environmental factor: thyroxine levels were negatively correlated with ambient temperature during egg formation. Thus, yolk hormone levels, especially testosterone, seem to be causally affected by ambient temperature. These short-term effects might reflect physiological changes in females with changes in ambient temperature. The adaptive value of the variation with ambient temperatures pre-laying or during egg formation should be studied with hormone manipulations in different thermal environments. © 2016 .


PubMed | Netherlands Institute of Ecology, University of Groningen and Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology
Type: | Journal: General and comparative endocrinology | Year: 2016

Global warming has substantially changed the environment, but the mechanisms to cope with these changes in animals, including the role of maternal effects, are poorly understood. Maternal effects via hormones deposited in eggs, have important environment-dependent effects on offspring development and fitness: thus females are expected to adjust these hormones to the environment, such as the ambient temperature. Longer-term temperature variation could function as a cue, predicting chick rearing conditions to which yolk hormone levels are adjusted, while short-term temperature variation during egg formation may causally affect hormone transfer to eggs. We studied the effects of ambient temperature on yolk androgens (testosterone and androstenedione) and thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) in great tits (Parus major) using data from unmanipulated clutches from a wild population and from aviary birds (ad libitum food) exposed to different experimental temperature treatments during five years. Both in the wild and in captivity, longer-term pre-laying ambient temperature was not associated with clutch mean yolk hormone levels, while the way androstenedione and thyroxine levels varied across the laying sequence did associate with pre-laying temperature in the wild. Yolk testosterone levels were positively correlated with short-term temperature (during yolk formation) changes within clutches in both wild and captivity. We also report, for the first time in a wild bird, that yolk thyroxine levels correlated with a key environmental factor: thyroxine levels were negatively correlated with ambient temperature during egg formation. Thus, yolk hormone levels, especially testosterone, seem to be causally affected by ambient temperature. These short-term effects might reflect physiological changes in females with changes in ambient temperature. The adaptive value of the variation with ambient temperatures pre-laying or during egg formation should be studied with hormone manipulations in different thermal environments.


Ikegami K.,Avian Bioscience Research Center | Atsumi Y.,Avian Bioscience Research Center | Yorinaga E.,Avian Bioscience Research Center | Ono H.,Avian Bioscience Research Center | And 14 more authors.
Endocrinology | Year: 2015

In temperate zones, animals restrict breeding to specific seasons to maximize the survival of their offspring. Birds have evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms of seasonal regulation, and their testicular mass can change 100-fold within a few weeks. Recent studies on Japanese quail revealed that seasonal gonadal development is regulated by central thyroid hormone activation within the hypothalamus, depending on the photoperiodic changes. By contrast, the mechanisms underlying seasonal testicular regression remain unclear. Here we show the effects of short day and low temperature on testicular regression in quail. Low temperature stimulus accelerated short dayinduced testicular regression by shutting down the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis and inducing meiotic arrestandgermcell apoptosis. Induction of T3 coincided with the climax of testicular regression. Temporal gene expression analysis over the course of apoptosis revealed the suppression of LH response genes and activation of T3 response genes involved in amphibian metamorphosis within the testis. Daily ip administration of T3 mimicked the effects of low temperature stimulus on germ cell apoptosis and testicular mass. Although type 2 deiodinase, a thyroid hormone- activating enzyme, in the brown adipose tissue generates circulating T3 under low-temperature conditions in mammals, there is no distinct brown adipose tissue in birds. In birds, type 2 deiodinase is induced by low temperature exclusively in the liver, which appears to be caused by increased food consumption. We conclude that birds use low temperature-induced circulating T3 not only for adaptive thermoregulation but also to trigger apoptosis to accelerate seasonal testicular regression. Copyright © 2015 by the Endocrine Society.


Houbrechts A.M.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Delarue J.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Gabriels I.J.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Sourbron J.,Laboratory for Molecular Biodiscovery | And 2 more authors.
Endocrinology | Year: 2016

Iodothyronine deiodinases are selenocysteine-containing enzymes that activate or inactivate thyroid hormones (THs). Deiodinase type 2 (Dio2) catalyzes the conversion of the prohormone T4 into the transcriptionally active T3 and is the predominant activating deiodinase in zebrafish. Using zinc finger nucleases, we generated two different dio2 mutant zebrafish lines to investigate the physiological function of this TH activator. The first line contains a deletion of 9 bp, resulting in an in-frame elimination of three conserved amino acids. The other line is characterized by an insertion of 4 bp, leading to the introduction of a premature stop-codon. Both lines completely lack Dio2 activity, resulting in a strong reduction of T3 abundancy in all tissues tested. Early development is clearly perturbed in these animals, as shown by a diverse set of morphometric parameters, defects in swim bladder inflation, and disturbed locomotor activity tested between 1 and 7 days after fertilization. Permanent Dio2 deficiency also provokes long-term effects because growth and especially fertility are severely hampered. Possible compensatory mechanisms were investigated in adult dio2 mutants, revealing a down-regulation of the inactivating deiodinase Dio3 and TH receptor transcript levels. As the firstnonmammalianmodelwith permanent Dio2 deficiency, these mutant zebrafish lines provide evidence that Dio2 is essential to assure normal development and to obtain a normal adult phenotype. © Copyright 2016 by the Endocrine Society.


Bagci E.,University of Antwerp | Heijlen M.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Vergauwen L.,University of Antwerp | Hagenaars A.,University of Antwerp | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Thyroid hormone (TH) balance is essential for vertebrate development. Deiodinase type 1 (D1) and type 2 (D2) increase and deiodinase type 3 (D3) decreases local intracellular levels of T3, the most important active TH. The role of deiodinase-mediated TH effects in early vertebrate development is only partially understood. Therefore, we investigated the role of deiodinases during early development of zebrafish until 96 hours post fertilization at the level of the transcriptome (microarray), biochemistry, morphology and physiology using morpholino (MO) knockdown. Knockdown of D1+D2 (D1D2MO) and knockdown of D3 (D3MO) both resulted in transcriptional regulation of energy metabolism and (muscle) development in abdomen and tail, together with reduced growth, impaired swim bladder inflation, reduced protein content and reduced motility. The reduced growth and impaired swim bladder inflation in D1D2MO could be due to lower levels of T3 which is known to drive growth and development. The pronounced upregulation of a large number of transcripts coding for key proteins in ATP-producing pathways in D1D2MO could reflect a compensatory response to a decreased metabolic rate, also typically linked to hypothyroidism. Compared to D1D2MO, the effects were more pronounced or more frequent in D3MO, in which hyperthyroidism is expected. More specifically, increased heart rate, delayed hatching and increased carbohydrate content were observed only in D3MO. An increase of the metabolic rate, a decrease of the metabolic efficiency and a stimulation of gluconeogenesis using amino acids as substrates may have been involved in the observed reduced protein content, growth and motility in D3MO larvae. Furthermore, expression of transcripts involved in purine metabolism coupled to vision was decreased in both knockdown conditions, suggesting that both may impair vision. This study provides new insights, not only into the role of deiodinases, but also into the importance of a correct TH balance during vertebrate embryonic development. © 2015 Bagci et al.


PubMed | Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology and RMIT University
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in neuroscience | Year: 2015

Thyroid hormones are key players in regulating brain development. Thus, transfer of appropriate quantities of thyroid hormones from the blood into the brain at specific stages of development is critical. The choroid plexus forms the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier. In reptiles, birds and mammals, the main protein synthesized and secreted by the choroid plexus is a thyroid hormone distributor protein: transthyretin. This transthyretin is secreted into the cerebrospinal fluid and moves thyroid hormones from the blood into the cerebrospinal fluid. Maximal transthyretin synthesis in the choroid plexus occurs just prior to the period of rapid brain growth, suggesting that choroid plexus-derived transthyretin moves thyroid hormones from blood into cerebrospinal fluid just prior to when thyroid hormones are required for rapid brain growth. The structure of transthyretin has been highly conserved, implying strong selection pressure and an important function. In mammals, transthyretin binds T4 (precursor form of thyroid hormone) with higher affinity than T3 (active form of thyroid hormone). In all other vertebrates, transthyretin binds T3 with higher affinity than T4. As mammals are the exception, we should not base our thinking about the role of transthyretin in the choroid plexus solely on mammalian data. Thyroid hormone transmembrane transporters are involved in moving thyroid hormones into and out of cells and have been identified in many tissues, including the choroid plexus. Thyroid hormones enter the choroid plexus via thyroid hormone transmembrane transporters and leave the choroid plexus to enter the cerebrospinal fluid via either thyroid hormone transmembrane transporters or via choroid plexus-derived transthyretin secreted into the cerebrospinal fluid. The quantitative contribution of each route during development remains to be elucidated. This is part of a review series on ontogeny and phylogeny of brain barrier mechanisms.


Darras V.M.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Van Herck S.L.J.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | Heijlen M.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | De Groef B.,Laboratory of Comparative Endocrinology | De Groef B.,La Trobe University
Journal of Thyroid Research | Year: 2011

Chicken and zebrafish are two model species regularly used to study the role of thyroid hormones in vertebrate development. Similar to mammals, chickens have one thyroid hormone receptor α (TRα) and one TRβ gene, giving rise to three TR isoforms: TRα, TRβ2, and TRβ0, the latter with a very short amino-terminal domain. Zebrafish also have one TRβ gene, providing two TRβ1 variants. The zebrafish TRα gene has been duplicated, and at least three TRα isoforms are expressed: TRαA1-2 and TRαB are very similar, while TRαA1 has a longer carboxy-terminal ligand-binding domain. All these TR isoforms appear to be functional, ligand-binding receptors. As in other vertebrates, the different chicken and zebrafish TR isoforms have a divergent spatiotemporal expression pattern, suggesting that they also have distinct functions. Several isoforms are expressed from the very first stages of embryonic development and early chicken and zebrafish embryos respond to thyroid hormone treatment with changes in gene expression. Future studies in knockdown and mutant animals should allow us to link the different TR isoforms to specific processes in embryonic development. Copyright © 2011 Veerle M. Darras et al.

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