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Data from: Critical disease windows shaped by stress exposure alter allocation trade-offs between development and immunity

Cite this dataset

Kirschman, Lucas J.; Crespi, Erica J.; Warne, Robin W. (2018). Data from: Critical disease windows shaped by stress exposure alter allocation trade-offs between development and immunity [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Ubiquitous environmental stressors are often thought to alter animal susceptibility to pathogens and contribute to disease emergence. However, duration of exposure to a stressor is likely critical, because while chronic stress is often immunosuppressive, acute stress can temporarily enhance immune function. Furthermore, host susceptibility to stress and disease often varies with ontogeny; increasing during critical developmental windows. How the duration and timing of exposure to stressors interact to shape critical windows and influence disease processes is not well tested. 2. We used ranaviruses and larval amphibians as a model system to investigate how physiological stress and pathogenic infection shape development and disease dynamics in vertebrates. Based on a resource allocation model, we designed experiments to test how exposure to stressors may induce resource trade-offs that shape critical windows and disease processes because the neuroendocrine stress axis coordinates developmental remodeling, immune function, and energy allocation in larval amphibians. 3. We used wood frog larvae (Lithobates sylvaticus) to investigate how chronic and acute exposure to corticosterone, the dominant amphibian glucocorticoid hormone, mediates development and immune function via splenocyte immunohistochemistry analysis in association with ranavirus infection. 4. Corticosterone treatments affected immune function, as both chronic and acute exposure suppressed splenocyte proliferation, although viral replication rate increased only in the chronic corticosterone treatment. 5. Time to metamorphosis and survival depended on both corticosterone treatment and infection status. In the control and chronic corticosterone treatments, ranavirus infection decreased survival and delayed metamorphosis, although chronic corticosterone exposure accelerated time to metamorphosis in uninfected larvae. Acute corticosterone exposure accelerated metamorphosis increased survival in infected larvae. 6. Interactions between stress exposure (via glucocorticoid actions) and infection impose resource trade-offs that shape optimal allocation between development and somatic function. As a result, critical disease windows are likely shaped by stress exposure because any conditions that induce changes in differentiation rates will alter the duration and susceptibility of organisms to stressors or disease.

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