Early Development of Neuronal Hypothalamic Thermosensitivity in Birds: Influence of Epigenetic Temperature Adaptation

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2002 Apr;131(4):825-32. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(02)00020-x.


The aim of the study was to investigate the prenatal influence of different incubation temperatures on the early postnatal development of neuronal hypothalamic thermosensitivity in birds. The experiments were carried out in brain slices of 1-, 5- and 10-days-old Muscovy ducklings incubated at 35, 37.5 (control) or 38.5 degrees C during the last week of incubation. Firing rate of neuronal activity was recorded extracellularly during sinusoidal temperature changes. The results show that the temperature experienced prenatally has a clear influence on postnatal neuronal hypothalamic thermosensitivity. For instance, at the 10th day post-hatching, exposure to the cooler prenatal incubation temperature resulted in elevated neuronal hypothalamic warm sensitivity through an increased proportion of warm sensitive neurons and a reduced proportion of cold sensitive neurons in comparison with the control group. Exposure to the warmer prenatal incubation temperature induced the opposite effect. In these age group changes in neuronal hypothalamic thermosensitivity occur in relation to the prenatal temperature experienced (proximate adaptive). During the first days of life, prenatal temperature load induced a significant change in the thermosensitivity of hypothalamic neurons which was independent of the direction of change in incubation temperature in comparison with control conditions (proximate non-adaptive). Changes in the thermosensitivity of hypothalamic neurons after prenatal temperature experiences observed in all age groups may be the result of epigenetic temperature adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Temperature*