Intracellular glucocorticoid receptors inspleen, but not skin, vary seasonally inwild house sparrows (Passer domesticus)

Document Type


Publication Date



Over the short-term and at physiological doses, acute increases in corticosterone (CORT) titres can enhance immune function. There are predictable seasonal patterns in both circulating CORT and immune function across many animal species, but whether CORT receptor density in immune tissues varies seasonally is currently unknown. Using radioligand binding assays, we examined changes in concentrations of glucocorticoid receptors (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) in spleen and skin in wild-caught house sparrows in Massachusetts during six different life-history stages: moult, early winter, late winter, pre-egg-laying, breeding and late breeding. Splenic GR and MR binding were highest during the pre-laying period. This may help animals respond to immune threats through increased lymphocyte proliferation and/or an increase in delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions, both of which CORT can stimulate and in which spleen is involved. A decrease in splenic GR and MR during the late breeding period coincides with low baseline and stress-induced CORT, suggesting immune function in spleen may be relatively CORT-independent during this period. We saw no seasonal patterns in GR or MR in skin, suggesting skin's response to CORT is modulated primarily via changes in circulating CORT titres and/or via local production of CORT in response to wounding and other noxious stimuli. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

This document is currently not available here.