Seasonal adreno-cortical cycle of a nocturnal bird, Indian spotted owlet Athene brama: Biochemical and morphological observations

Haldar, C.; Kumari, C.C.Sudha; Guchhait, P.

Biological Rhythm Research 33(1): 53-63


ISSN/ISBN: 0929-1016
DOI: 10.1076/brhm.
Accession: 011329229

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It is well reported that the environmental factors along with different endocrine stimulus play a crucial role in maintenance of adrenocortical activity in birds. This study is first to report a detailed seasonal activity cycle of adrenal cortex, particularly its secretory physiology in a tropical nocturnal bird, Indian spotted owlet Athene brama. The maximum cortical activity having highest glandular mass, glandular free cholesterol, esterified cholesterol profiles, and peak level of corticosterone in plasma coincided with the long day length, highest temperature and increasing amplitude of relative humidity and rainfall of the early summer month, May. Cortical activity declined to minimum level in August when the ecofactors also declined parallely and hence, the birds entered into partial hibernation. The cortical activity progressed slowly throughout the winter (September-March) to reach maximum level in May. Further, the electron microscopic observations of cortical cell morphology strongly supported the above seasonal activity status of the gland revealing a comparatively large number of mitochondria during May than August, along with lipid filled vacuoles during May but not in August. Besides, assessment of gonadal and pineal hormones in relation with seasonal activity of adrenal cortex presented a parallel relationship with gonad while completely inverse relationship with pineal. Therefore, the study concludes that the seasonal adrenocortical activity of this tropical nocturnal bird might be regulated by multiple factors, particularly by the environmental temperature, humidity/rainfall and photoperiod along with the internal factors at least by gonadal and pineal hormones.