Thyroid function and the development of endothermy in a marsupial, the Tasmanian bettong,
Bettongia gaimardi (Demarest 1822)
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Rose, RW and Kuswanti, N, Thyroid function and the development of endothermy in a marsupial, the Tasmanian bettong,
Bettongia gaimardi (Demarest 1822), General and Comparative Endocrinology, 136, (1) pp. 17-22. ISSN 0016-6480 (2004) [Refereed Article]
The Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) is a small rat-kangaroo (marsupial) found only in Tasmania, Australia. The duration of pouch life is 15 weeks. Adults and older young display non-shivering thermogenesis and this paper examines the role of thyroxine in the development of endothermy in pouch young. Free thyroxine (T4) concentrations varied throughout pouch life. The mean (±SE) concentration was 6.2±1.9pmolL-1 in week 7, increased and peaked at 19.2±4.3pmolL-1 in week 12, and declined to 5.6±0.4pmolL-1 by week 20. This was similar to adult levels (3.2±3.8pmolL-1). These concentrations showed significant differences. From pouch week 12 onwards, T4 injection raised oxygen consumption. Maximum levels of VO2 after T4 injection occurred at weeks 14-15. Although adult levels were lower, the increase in adult oxygen consumption after T4 injection was about 50%. Peak free T4 levels and metabolic responses to nor-adrenalin occur at week 12 and we hypothesize that thyroid hormone may facilitate the development of adrenergic-receptors in this species. The data presented in the paper further attest to the likely important role of the thyroid gland in the development of endothermy in marsupial pouch young. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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