Activation of the immune system to clear pathogens and mitigate infection is a costly process that might incur fitness costs. When vertebrates are exposed to pathogens, their first line of defense is the acute-phase response (APR), which consists of a suite of physiological and behavioral changes. The dynamics of the APR are relatively well investigated in mammals and domesticated birds but still rather unexplored in passerine birds. In this study, we injected male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) with a bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) to assess the potential physiological, immunological, and behavioral responses during the time course of an APR and also to record any potential short-term effects by measuring the birds during the days after the expected APR. We found that LPS-injected zebra finches decreased activity and gained less body mass during the APR, compared to control individuals. In addition, LPS-injected birds increased their production of LPS-reactive antibodies and reduced their metabolic rate during the days after the expected APR. Our results show that zebra finches demonstrate sickness behaviors during an APR but also that physiological effects persist after the expected time course of an APR. These delayed effects might be either a natural part of the progression of an APR, which is probably true for the antibody response, or a short-term carryover effect, which is probably true for the metabolic response.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Biological Sciences