ABSTRACT

Reptiles, like other vertebrates, rely on immunity to defend themselves from infection. The energetic cost of an immune response is liable to scale with infection severity, prompting constraints on other self-maintenance traits if immune prioritization exceeds energy budget. In this study, adult male side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) were injected with saline (control) or high (20 µg g−1 body mass) or low (10 µg g−1 body mass) concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to simulate bacterial infections of discrete severities. The costs and consequences of the immune response were assessed through comparisons of change in resting metabolic rate (RMR), energy metabolites (glucose, glycerol, triglycerides), innate immunity (bactericidal ability), sprint speed and oxidative status (antioxidant capacity, reactive oxygen metabolites). High-LPS lizards had the lowest glucose levels and greatest sprint reductions, while their RMR and bactericidal ability were similar to those of control lizards. Low-LPS lizards had elevated RMR and bactericidal ability, but glucose levels and sprint speed changes between those of high-LPS and control lizards. Levels of glycerol, triglycerides, reactive oxygen metabolites and antioxidant capacity did not differ by treatment. Taken together, energy expenditure for the immune response varies in a non-linear fashion with challenge severity, posing consequences for performance and self-maintenance processes in a reptile.

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