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Photoperiod differentially affects energetics of immunity in pregnant and lactating Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)

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Both immune and reproductive (i.e., pregnancy and lactation) functions are energetically demanding processes that fluctuate seasonally. Winter is energetically demanding because energy availability is limited and energy demands are high. The goal of the present study was to assess the trade-off of resources between immunity and reproduction by examining antibody production during pregnancy and lactation, when energy requirements are high. Female Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) were held in either long or short days, and anti-keyhole limpet hemocyanin antibody production was assessed in pregnant, lactating, or nulliparous animals. Pregnancy and lactation both suppressed humoral immunity (primary antibody production) in long-day Siberian hamsters. However, although antibody production was reduced in short-day females compared with long-day animals, pregnancy and lactation did not reduce antibody body production any further. Interestingly, the size and mass of the litters produced by females in both long and short days did not differ. Taken together, these results suggest that the processes of pregnancy and lactation are costly enough to reduce humoral immunity, and they suggest that immunity may be compromised as a result of energy allocation to these reproductive processes.

Les fonctions immunitaires et reproductives (i.e., la grossesse et l'allaitement) sont toutes deux des processus qui requièrent beaucoup d'énergie et qui varient d'après la saison. L'hiver est une période de forte demande d'énergie, car la disponibilité de l'énergie est réduite et les dépenses énergétiques élevées. Le but de notre recherche est d'évaluer les compromis énergétiques entre l'immunité et la reproduction en mesurant la production d'anticorps durant la grossesse et l'allaitement quand la demande énergétique est forte. Nous avons évalué la production de l'anticorps anti-KLH chez des femelles gravides, nourricières et nullipares du hamster sibérien (Phodopus sungorus), gardées dans des conditions de jours longs ou de jours courts. La grossesse et l'allaitement abaissent tous deux l'immunité humorale (production primaire d'anticorps) chez les hamsters sibériens gardés dans des conditions de jours longs. Cependant, chez les femelles gardées en conditions de jours courts, alors que la production d'anticorps est réduite par rapport aux femelles gardées en conditions de jours longs, la grossesse et l'allaitement ne réduisent pas davantage la production d'anticorps. Il est intéressant de noter que la taille et la masse des portées produites sont semblables, que les jours soient longs ou courts. Dans leur ensemble, nos résultats laissent croire que la grossesse et l'allaitement sont des processus suffisamment coûteux pour réduire l'immunité humorale et que l'immunité peut être compromise à cause de l'allocation de l'énergie à ces processus de reproduction.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-08-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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