Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Mammalian Biology
By: , and 



Seasonal changes in light, temperature, and food availability stimulate a physiological response in an animal. Seasonal adaptations are well studied in Arctic, Sub-Arctic, and hibernating mammals; however, limited studies have been conducted in sub-tropical species. The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a sub-tropical marine mammal, forages less during colder temperatures and may rely on adipose stores for maintenance energy requirements. Metabolic hormones, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, and ghrelin influence growth rate, accretion of lean and adipose tissue. They have been shown to regulate seasonal changes in body composition. The objective of this research was to investigate manatee metabolic hormones in two seasons to determine if manatees exhibit seasonality and if these hormones are associated with seasonal changes in body composition. In addition, age related differences in these metabolic hormones were assessed in multiple age classes. Concentrations of GH, IGF-I, and ghrelin were quantified in adult manatee serum using heterologous radioimmunoassays. Samples were compared between short (winter) and long (summer) photoperiods (n = 22 male, 20 female) and by age class (adult, juvenile, and calf) in long photoperiods (n = 37). Short photoperiods tended to have reduced GH (p = 0.08), greater IGF-I (p = 0.01), and greater blubber depth (p = 0.03) compared with long photoperiods. No differences were observed in ghrelin (p = 0.66). Surprisingly, no age related differences were observed in IGF-I or ghrelin concentrations (p > 0.05). However, serum concentrations of GH tended (p = 0.07) to be greater in calves and juveniles compared with adults. Increased IGF-I, greater blubber thickness, and reduced GH during short photoperiod suggest a prioritization for adipose deposition. Whereas, increased GH, reduced blubber thickness, and decreased IGF-I in long photoperiod suggest prioritization of lean tissue accretion. Hormone profiles in conjunction with difference in body composition between photoperiods indicate seasonal adjustments in manatee nutrient partitioning priorities.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
Series title Mammalian Biology
DOI 10.1016/j.mambio.2016.02.006
Volume 81
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 8 p.
First page 247
Last page 254
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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