Vitally important : does early innate immunity predict recruitment and adult innate immunity?
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Ecology and evolution. - [Oxford], 2011, currens
, p. 1799-1808
University of Antwerp
The immune system is one of the most important adaptations that has evolved to protect animals from a wide range of pathogens they encounter from early life onwards. During the early developmental period this is particularly true for the innate immunity, as other components of the immune system are, as yet, poorly developed. But innate immunity may not only be crucial for early life survival, but may also have long-lasting effects, for example if early life immunity reflects the functioning of the immune system as a whole. For this reason, we investigated the importance of four constitutive innate immune parameters (natural antibodies, complement activity, concentrations of haptoglobin, and concentrations of nitric oxide) for recruitment in free-living great tits. We compared nestling immunity of recruits with nestling immunity of their nonrecruited siblings. We also investigated within individual consistency of these innate immune parameters for those individuals that recruited, which may be taken as a measure of immune capacity. In accordance with previous studies, we found a clear effect of tarsus length and a trend for body mass on the likelihood to recruit. Nevertheless, we found no evidence that higher levels of constitutive innate immunity as a nestling facilitated local recruitment. Furthermore, individual innate immunity was not consistent across life stages, that is to say, nestling immune parameters did not determine, or respectively, reflect adult innate immune parameters. This plasticity in innate immune components may explain why we did not find long-lasting survival benefits.