Roles and mechanistic bases of glucocorticoid regulation of avian reproduction

Pierre Deviche, Stephanie Bittner, Sisi Gao, Shelley Valle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Synopsis To maximize fitness, organisms must invest energetic and nutritional resources into developing, activating, and maintaining reproductive physiology and behavior. Corticosterone (CORT), the primary avian glucocorticoid, regulates energetic reserves to meet metabolic demands. At low (baseline) plasma levels, CORT activates avian mineralocorticoid receptors and may stimulate lipid mobilization, foraging activity, and feeding behavior. During stress in birds, elevated plasma CORT also stimulates glucocorticoid receptors and may promote glycemia, lipolysis, and proteolysis. Furthermore, CORT orchestrates physiological and behavioral adjustments to perceived threats. While many avian studies demonstrate effects of CORT on reproduction, few studies have elucidated the mechanisms, including receptor activation and site(s) of action, which underlie these effects. Even fewer studies have investigated how low and elevated plasma CORT regulates energetic reserves to meet the metabolic demands of reproduction. Here, we propose several hypotheses to clarify the direct and indirect effects of CORT on avian reproductive physiology and behavior. In addition, we emphasize the need for new manipulative studies involving alterations of endogenous plasma CORT levels and/or food availability to elucidate how CORT regulates the energetic demands of reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1193
Number of pages10
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science


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