Corticosterone stimulates hatching of late-term tree lizard embryos
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A
The regulation of hatching in oviparous animals is important for successful reproduction and survival, but is poorly understood. We unexpectedly found that RU-486, a progesterone and glucocorticoid antagonist, interferes with hatching of viable tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus) embryos in a dose-dependent manner and hypothesized that embryonic glucocorticoids regulate hatching. To test this hypothesis, we treated eggs with corticosterone (CORT) or vehicle on Day 30 (85%) of incubation, left other eggs untreated, and observed relative hatch order and hatch time. In one study, the CORT egg hatched first in 9 of 11 clutches. In a second study, the CORT egg hatched first in 9 of 12 clutches, before vehicle-treated eggs in 10 of 12 clutches, and before untreated eggs in 7 of 9 clutches. On average, CORT eggs hatched 18.2 h before vehicle-treated eggs and 11.6 h before untreated eggs. Thus, CORT accelerates hatching of near-termembryos and RU-486 appears to block this effect. CORT may mobilize energy substrates that fuel hatching and/or accelerate lung development, and may provide a mechanism by which stressed embryos escape environmental stressors.
Weiss, S.L., G. Johnston, and M.C. Moore. 2007. Corticosterone stimulates hatching of late-term tree lizard embryos. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 146(3):360-365.