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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2013 Jan-Feb;86(1):127-36. doi: 10.1086/668637. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Costs of mounting an immune response during pregnancy in a lizard.

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Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Unité Mixte de Recherche Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 7625, 7 quai Saint Bernard, Case 237, F-75252 Paris, cedex 05, France.


Immune defenses are of great benefit to hosts, but reducing the impact of infection by mounting an immune response also entails costs. However, the physiological mechanisms that generate the costs of an immune response remain poorly understood. Moreover, the majority of studies investigating the consequences of an immune challenge in vertebrates have been conducted on mammals and birds. The aim of this study is to investigate the physiological costs of mounting an immune response during gestation in an ectothermic species. Indeed, because ectothermic species are unable to internally regulate their body temperature, the apportionment of resources to homeostatic activities in ectothermic species can differ from that in endothermic species. We conducted this study on the common lizard Zootoca vivipara. We investigated the costs of mounting an immune response by injecting females with sheep red blood cells and quantified the consequences to reproductive performance (litter mass and success) and physiological performance (standard metabolic rate, endurance, and phytohemagglutinin response). In addition, we measured basking behavior. Our analyses revealed that mounting an immune response affected litter mass, physiological performance, and basking behavior. Moreover, we demonstrated that the modulation of an immune challenge is impacted by intrinsic factors, such as body size and condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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