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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2008 Oct;151(2):226-31. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2008.06.031. Epub 2008 Jun 29.

Interaction of testosterone, corticosterone and corticosterone binding globulin in the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis).

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.


Plasma binding globulins bind steroid hormones and are thought to regulate hormone access to tissues. Mammals have both sex steroid binding globulin (SSBG) and corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG). Birds, however, have no detectable SSBG, leading to the early conclusion that birds have no plasma regulation of sex steroids. CBG, however, can bind androgens with relatively high affinity. In birds, therefore, the control of androgenic effects may be tightly regulated by glucocorticoid physiology because glucocorticoids compete with androgens for CBG binding sites. We report levels of total testosterone (T), total corticosterone, CBG, and estimated free T in the males, the more aggressive morph had higher levels of total T; female morphs did not differ. Approximately 96% of T was bound to CBG, but a lack of morph or sex-specific differences in corticosterone titers or CBG capacity caused patterns of free T to mirror those of total T. While CBG has the potential to greatly influence T availability to tissues, in this species interactions between T, CBG and corticosterone do not appear to alter general patterns of T availability to tissues.

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