Chronic stress, energy transduction, and free-radical production in a reptile
Stress hormones, such as corticosterone, play a crucial role in orchestrating physiological reaction patterns shaping adapted responses to stressful environments. Concepts aiming at predicting individual and population responses to environmental stress typically consider that stress hormones and their effects on metabolic rate provide appropriate proxies for the energy budget. However, uncoupling between the biochemical processes of respiration, ATP production, and free-radical production in mitochondria may play a fundamental role in the stress response and associated life histories. In this study, we aim at dissecting sub-cellular mechanisms that link these three processes by investigating both whole-organism metabolism, liver mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation processes (O2 consumption and ATP production) and ROS emission in Zootoca vivipara individuals exposed 21 days to corticosterone relative to a placebo. Corticosterone enhancement had no effect on mitochondrial activity and efficiency. In parallel, the corticosterone treatment increased liver mass and mitochondrial protein content suggesting a higher liver ATP production. We also found a negative correlation between mitochondrial ROS emission and plasma corticosterone level. These results provide a proximal explanation for enhanced survival after chronic exposure to corticosterone in this species. Importantly, none of these modifications affected resting whole-body metabolic rate. Oxygen consumption, ATP, and ROS emission were thus independently affected in responses to corticosterone increase suggesting that concepts and models aiming at linking environmental stress and individual responses may misestimate energy allocation possibilities.
KeywordsCorticosterone Reptile Mitochondrial efficiency Allostatic overload ROS emission and ATP production Oxygen consumption
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