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Energetic reserves, leptin and testosterone: a refinement of the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis

AuthorsAlonso-Álvarez, Carlos ; Bertrand, S.; Sorci, Gabriele
KeywordsImmunocompetence handicap hypothesis
Issue Date8-Mar-2007
PublisherRoyal Society (Great Britain)
CitationBiol. Lett. 3(3): 271-274 (2007)
AbstractThe immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) assumes that testosterone (T), required for the expression of sexual traits, can also incur a cost due to its immunosuppressive properties. However, T-dependent immunosuppression could also arise as an indirect consequence of energy reallocation from the immune system to other metabolic demands. Leptin is mostly produced in lipogenic tissues and its circulating level is positively correlated with the amount of lipid reserves. Leptin also has an important role as immunoenhancer and we suggest that this hormone could play a role as a mediator of the immunosuppressive effect of testosterone. In particular, we propose that only the individuals able to maintain large lipid reserves (with high leptin levels), while sustaining high testosterone levels, might be able to develop sexual displays without an impairment of their immune defences. Here, we tested one of the assumptions underlying this extension of the ICHH: leptin administration should attenuate testosterone-induced immunosuppression. T-implanted and control male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) received daily injections of leptin or phosphate buffered saline. T-implants initially depressed the phytohaemagglutinin-induced immune response. However, T-birds injected with leptin enhanced their immune response to the level of control birds. These results open a new perspective on the study of the ICHH.
Description4 pages.-- PMCID: PMC2464690.-- Printed version published on June 22, 2007.-- Electronic supplementary material is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2007.0020 or via http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2007.0020
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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