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Peripherally injected ghrelin and leptin reduce food hoarding and mass gain in the coal tit (Periparus ater).

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lindsay Henderson, Rowan Cockcroft, Dr Timothy Boswell, Dr Tom SmuldersORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by The Royal Society Publishing, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In birds little is known about the hormonal signals that communicate nutritional state to the brain and regulate appetitive behaviours. In mammals, the peptide hormones ghrelin and leptin elevate and inhibit consumption and food hoarding, respectively. But in birds, administration of both ghrelin and leptin inhibit food consumption. The role of these hormones in the regulation of food hoarding in avian species has not been examined. To investigate this, we injected wild caught coal tits (Periparus ater) with leptin, high-dose ghrelin, low-dose ghrelin and a saline control in the laboratory. We then measured food hoarding and mass gain, as a proxy of food consumption, every 20 mins for two hours post-injection. Both high-dose ghrelin and leptin injections significantly reduced hoarding and mass gain compared with controls. Our results provide the first evidence that hoarding behaviour can be reduced by both leptin and ghrelin in a wild bird. These findings add to evidence that the hormonal control of food consumption and hoarding in avian species differs from that in mammals. Food hoarding and consumptive behaviours consistently show the same response to peripheral signals of nutritional state, suggesting that the hormonal regulation of food hoarding has evolved from the consumption regulatory system.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Henderson LJ, Cockcroft RC, Kaiya H, Boswell T, Smulders TV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Year: 2018

Volume: 285

Issue: 1879

Print publication date: 30/05/2018

Online publication date: 23/05/2018

Acceptance date: 20/04/2018

Date deposited: 21/04/2018

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0417


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