Examining a pathway for hormone mediated maternal effects - Yolk testosterone affects androgen receptor expression and endogenous testosterone production in young chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus)

K. A. Pfannkuche*, M. Gahr, I. M. Weites, B. Riedstra, C. Wolf, T. G. G. Groothuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In vertebrates maternal androgens can substantially influence developing offspring, inducing both short and long term changes in physiology and behavior, including androgen sensitive traits. However, how the effects of maternal hormones are mediated remains unknown. Two possible pathways are that maternal androgens affect parts of the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG axis) or the sensitivity to androgens by affecting androgen receptor (AR) densities within the brain. To investigate both pathways, testosterone within the physiological range or vehicle only was injected into the egg yolk of unincubated chicken eggs and AR mRNA expression in different brain nuclei as well as plasma testosterone levels were measured in two week old male and female chicks that had hatched from these eggs. Our results showed a significant sex difference in plasma testosterone levels with males showing higher levels than females. Furthermore, AR mRNA expression as well as plasma testosterone levels were significantly lower in chicks hatched from testosterone treated eggs. These results suggest a compensatory mechanism for avoiding potential detrimental effects of high testosterone levels. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral and Comparitive Endocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jul-2011


  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens
  • Egg Yolk
  • Female
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Sex Factors
  • Testosterone

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