Reproductive state and water deprivation increase plasma corticosterone in a capital breeder

George A. Brusch, Dale F. DeNardo, Olivier Lourdais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Plasma corticosterone (CORT) concentrations fluctuate in response to homeostatic demands. CORT is widely recognized as an important hormone related to energy balance. However, far less attention has been given to the potential role of CORT in regulating salt and water balance or responding to osmotic imbalances. We examined the effects of reproductive and hydric states on CORT levels in breeding Children's pythons (Antaresia childreni), a species with substantial energetic and hydric costs associated with egg development. Using a 2 × 2 experimental design, we examined how reproduction and water deprivation, both separately and combined, impact CORT levels and how these changes correlate with hydration (plasma osmolality) and energy levels (blood glucose). We found that reproduction leads to increased CORT levels, as does dehydration induced by water deprivation. The combined impact of reproduction and water deprivation led to the largest increases in CORT levels. Additionally, we found significant positive relationships among CORT levels, plasma osmolality, and blood glucose. Our results provide evidence that both reproductive activity and increased plasma osmolality can lead to increased plasma CORT in an ectotherm, which could be explained by either CORT having a role as a mineralocorticoid or CORT being elevated as part of a stress response to resource imbalances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113375
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Antaresia childreni
  • Hydration
  • Osmotic stress
  • Reproductive investment
  • Squamate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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