Developmental plasticity is partly mediated by transgenerational effects, including those mediated by the maternal endocrine system. Glucocorticoid and thyroid hormones may play central roles in developmental programming through their action on metabolism and growth. However, the mechanisms by which they affect growth and development remain understudied. One hypothesis is that maternal hormones directly affect the production and availability of energy-carrying molecules (e.g. ATP) by their action on mitochondrial function. To test this hypothesis, we experimentally increased glucocorticoid and thyroid hormones in wild great tit eggs (Parus major) to investigate their impact on offspring mitochondrial aerobic metabolism (measured in blood cells), and subsequent growth and survival. We show that prenatal glucocorticoid supplementation affected offspring cellular aerobic metabolism by decreasing mitochondrial density, maximal mitochondrial respiration and oxidative phosphorylation, while increasing the proportion of the maximum capacity being used under endogenous conditions. Prenatal glucocorticoid supplementation only had mild effects on offspring body mass, size and condition during the rearing period, but led to a sex-specific (females only) decrease in body mass a few months after fledging. Contrary to our expectations, thyroid hormone supplementation did not affect offspring growth or mitochondrial metabolism. Recapture probability as juveniles or adults was not significantly affected by prenatal hormonal treatment. Our results demonstrate that prenatal glucocorticoids can affect post-natal mitochondrial density and aerobic metabolism. The weak effects on growth and apparent survival suggest that nestlings were mostly able to compensate for the transient decrease in mitochondrial aerobic metabolism induced by prenatal glucocorticoids.

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