Role of Gonadal and Adrenal Steroids and Thyroid Hormones in the Regulation of Molting in Domestic Goose


Plasma levels of testosterone (T), 17-β-estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), corticosterone (B), thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) were monitored during postnuptial and the prenuptial molt in domestic goose (Anser anser domesticus) in both sexes. 1. At the beginning of postnuptial molt (when the old, worn dawny-, and cover feathers’ loss starts) in ganders, the levels of T, E2, P4 decrease while DHEA and B significantly increase. The elevated levels of T4 and low T3 concentrations characteristic of the last phase of the reproduction, remain unchanged. In layers, similar changes were observed, however, B decreases. 2. In the early phase of outgrowth of wing and cover feathers, plasma levels of T, E2 and P4 are low. Elevated B, DHEA and T4 concentrations decrease in ganders, while in layers DHEA increases and B and T4 levels remain unchanged. T3 increases in both sexes. 3. The subsequent intensive outgrowth period of wing- and cover feathers both in ganders and in layers is characterized by very low levels of T, E2, DHEA and T4, but P4 increased, and T3 concentration remain high. 4. At the end of postnuptial molt–when the outgrowth of dawny, cover-, and wing feathers stops–very low T, E2, P4, DHEA and T4 levels and and high T3 plasma levels were found in both sexes. Fast increase of plasma B was detected in ganders, while in geese, B concentration remain high. 5. During prenuptial molting (outgrowth of contour and tail feathers) low E2, P4 and T4, increasing T and DHEA, but very high T3 and B plasma concentration were measured in ganders. In layers, very low T, E2, P4, DHEA and T4 levels, and very high B and T3 levels were found. 6. At the beginning of the fall-winter sexual repose (postmolting stage) T, E2, P4, DHEA and T4 levels increase, T3 and B declines in both sexes. 7. In the subsequent phase of fall-winter period (preparatory stage) there is a further increase in T, P4 and T4, a fast increase of B and a decrease of E2, DHEA and T3 in ganders. In layers, T, P4 and DHEA decrease, B increases and the T4 and T3 do not change. 8. At the beginning of reproduction high T level, unchanged DHEA, slightly declined P4, and decreased E2, T4, T3 and a strong decline of B concentrations occur in ganders. In layers, T is further increased, E2 and P4 shows high levels, and, at the same time DHEA and T3 remain unchanged, while B and T4 decrease.


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Péczely, P., Bogenfürst, F., Kulcsár, M. et al. Role of Gonadal and Adrenal Steroids and Thyroid Hormones in the Regulation of Molting in Domestic Goose. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 62, 1–21 (2011).

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  • Steroids
  • thyroid hormones
  • molt
  • goose