Evaluation of adrenal function in serum and feces of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus): influences of molt, gender, sample storage, and age on glucocorticoid metabolism

General and Comparative Endocrinology
Kendall Mashburn, S Atkinson


Fecal corticosterone concentrations, measured via radioimmunoassay (RIA), were validated as a method to monitor adrenal function in Steller sea lion physiology. Quantification of adrenal response to an acute stressor and relevance of data produced by developed methodologies was determined through physiological challenge with exogenous administration of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to captive adult, reproductively intact, Steller sea lions of both sexes (n=3, 1 male, 2 female) during seasonal molt. Following ACTH administration, serial blood and fecal samples were collected and analyzed by RIA to determine adrenal response. Storage regimens and weather exposure were examined to establish external impact on fecal corticosterone concentrations. High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) of both serum and feces of Steller sea lions was employed to explore potential gender-based differences extant in either sample media. ACTH challenges produced >3-fold increases in serum cortisol concentrations which were reflected in >18-fold increases in fecal corticosterone concentrations post-injection at 3.25 and 32 h, respectively, and fecal corticosterone concentrations returned to baseline 52 h post-injection. Neither outdoor exposure...Continue Reading


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