Failure of glucocorticoid feedback during breeding in the male red-tailed phascogale Phascogale calura (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae)

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1990 Sep;37(1):155-63. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(90)90384-w.


An investigation was made into the factors which lead to an elevation in plasma free cortisol concentration during the last weeks of life of males in natural populations of the red-tailed phascogale Phascogale calura. The dexamethasone suppression-test was employed to examine the glucocorticoid feedback control of plasma cortisol both before and during the breeding season. In both sexes ACTH alone or in combination with dexamethasone caused an elevation in the plasma concentration of cortisol, corticosterone and free cortisol. Dexamethasone administration in both males and females resulted in significant decreases in the plasma concentration of each of the glucocorticoid groups both before and during the first week of the breeding season (June and early July), however during the last week of breeding (late July) dexamethasone decreased the plasma glucocorticoid concentration of females but not of males. Administration of ACTH caused a significant elevation in the plasma cortisol concentration in all groups. However, the magnitude of this response diminished with time in both sexes. Dexamethasone treatment resulted in a decrease in the plasma testosterone concentration in males before and early in the breeding season however toward the end of breeding this effect was abolished. It is apparent that towards the end of the breeding season and during the last week of life of the males, glucocorticoid feedback control of ACTH is almost abolished. These changes, which occur only in the males late in the breeding season and near the time of their disappearance from the population, are consistent with a condition known as end organ resistance to steroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Dexamethasone / blood
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / blood*
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Marsupialia / metabolism*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Transcortin / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Serum Albumin
  • Testosterone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Transcortin
  • Hydrocortisone