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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2009 Apr;161(2):271-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2009.01.013. Epub 2009 Jan 31.

Exposure to pheromones increases plasma corticosterone concentrations in a terrestrial salamander.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA.


Sensory cues involved in social interactions can influence plasma steroid hormone concentrations. Although pheromonal communication is common in amphibians, it is unknown whether pheromones can alter hormone levels in amphibians as they do in mammals. We tested whether courtship pheromones would alter steroid hormone concentrations in male and female terrestrial salamanders (Plethodon shermani). Plasma corticosterone concentrations were elevated in male salamanders exposed to mental gland courtship pheromones, as compared to males exposed to female skin secretions or a saline control. Chemosensory cues had no effect on testosterone levels in males or on corticosterone or estradiol levels in females. These results provide the first evidence that pheromones have priming effects on the endocrine system in amphibians.

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