Altricial nestlings typically do not show an adrenocortical response during the early posthatch period. This may be a result of an immature hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or an enhanced control of the axis by negative feedback. To examine whether the dampened adrenocortical response is due to higher receptor densities in hypothalamus and hippocampus, the major sites for negative feedback and tonic inhibition, we explored the ontogenetic changes in glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) binding capacities in the brain of white-crowned sparrow nestlings. During the 10-day nestling period, MR binding capacity decreased with age, whereas GR capacity was not affected. In addition, this overall decline in MR levels was driven entirely by a decline in cerebellar MR. No age-related changes were observed in hippocampal or hypothalamic areas. Our findings suggest that enhanced negative feedback does not play a major role in the attenuated adrenocortical responses seen in white-crowned sparrow nestlings.
- Glucocorticoid receptors
- Mineralocorticoid receptors