Jackdaw nestlings rapidly increase innate immune function during the nestling phase but no evidence for a trade-off with growth

Christian Aastrup, Arne Hegemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although animals are born with a protective immune system, even the innate immune system is under development from birth to adulthood and this development may be affected by sex and growth. However, most knowledge comes from captive animals or long-lived slow growing species. Moreover, little is known about how innate immune function, the important first line of defence, develops during early life in fast-growing animals such as free-living passerines. We studied development of innate baseline immune function in nestlings of free-living jackdaws Corvus monedula. We measured four immune parameters (hemolysis, hemagglutination, bacterial-killing capacity, haptoglobin concentration) and structural body size (body mass, wing length, tarsus length) at day 12 and day 29 post-hatching. We found that three out of four immune parameters (hemolysis, hemagglutination, bacterial-killing capacity) substantially increased with nestling age and had roughly reached adult levels shortly prior to fledging. We found little differences in immune development between males and females despite them differing in structural development. We also found no evidence that the nestlings traded off immune development with growth. That nestlings rapidly increase innate baseline immune function during early life and similarly in males and females indicates the importance of a well-functioning immune system already during the nestling phase.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103967
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Volume117
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Immunology
  • Zoology

Keywords

  • Avian physiology
  • Bird
  • Developmental period
  • Eco-immunology
  • Immunity
  • Ontogeny

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