Corticosterone mediates telomere length in raptor chicks exposed to chemical mixture

Powolny, T.; Bassin, N.; Crini, N.; Fourel, I.; Morin, C.; Pottinger, T.G.; Massemin, S.; Zahn, S.; Coeurdassier, M.. 2020 Corticosterone mediates telomere length in raptor chicks exposed to chemical mixture. Science of the Total Environment, 706, 135083. 7, pp.

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Stressors experience early in life by animals may have carry over impacts on life-traits over the life cycle. Accelerated telomere attrition induced by stress during development and growth could play a role in such delayed effects. Among stressors, exposure to chemicals may modify telomere dynamic but, to date, the trends evidenced between exposure and telomere shortening remains inconsistent. Moreover, the role of corticosterone as a possible mediator of chemical impact on telomere is not yet clearly established. Here, we investigated in wild populations of Red kite whether nestling exposure to metals and pesticides was related to corticosterone concentrations in feathers and telomere length measured in 47 individuals. Lead and mercury concentrations in blood ranged from 2.3 to 59.0 µg L−1 and to 1.4 to 115.7 µg L−1, respectively, and were below the toxicity thresholds proposed for wildlife. Rodenticides were detected in 30% of the chicks. Corticosterone increased with mercury and lead in interaction, showing a synergistic effect of these 2 non-essential metals on this stress hormone. Telomere length was not linked to metals and/or rodenticide exposure while it was related negatively to corticosterone. The relationship between telomere and corticosterone was modulated by nestling’s age, which suggests that the rate of telomere shortening is higher when corticosterone increases. Our findings propose an effect of low exposure of Red Kite nestlings to mercury and lead mixture to raise baseline corticosterone in feathers. The relationships established suggest the hypothesis that telomere attrition could be an indirect consequence of metal exposure mediated by corticosterone.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Unaffiliated
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: pollutant, telomere, corticosterone, red kite, stress, cocktail effect
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 17 Dec 2019 10:53 +0 (UTC)

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