The development of endotoxin tolerance, and the role of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal function and glucocorticoids in Pekin ducks
Journal of Experimental Biology
Endotoxin tolerance represents a state of abated immunological responsiveness to pyrogens, which, in mammals, leads to the decline or abolition of the fever response. The development of endotoxin tolerance in birds is not well understood; consequently, the impact of repeated pathogenic exposure on the avian febrile response, and thus on the ability of birds to fight recurrent infection, is not known. We determined the effect of repeated injections of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on the febrile
... nse of Pekin ducks. We gave ducks five injections of LPS, spaced 1, 4 or 10days apart, and recorded their core body temperature with abdominally implanted temperature data loggers. Once we established that Pekin ducks developed endotoxin tolerance, we investigated the effect of repeated injections of LPS on the central and peripheral segments of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in an attempt to elucidate the role of glucocorticoids in the modulation of the febrile response during the tolerant period. When our ducks became tolerant to LPS, they had significantly higher basal levels of plasma corticosterone (CORT, the principal glucocorticoid in birds), and their HPA response to treatment with LPS was blunted. We propose that the augmented levels of basal plasma CORT resulted from sensitized HPA function, and this, in turn, contributed to the development of endotoxin tolerance. Regulation of the circulating level of CORT might be a possible target for the re-establishment of appropriate immune responses in birds.