Compensatory Growth Is Accompanied by Changes in Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 but Not Markers of Cellular Aging in a Long-Lived Seabird

Aubrey E. Sirman, Jacob E. Schmidt, Mark E Clark, Jeffrey D. Kittilson, Wendy L. Reed, Britt J. Heidinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developing organisms often plastically modify growth in response to environmental circumstances, which may be adaptive but is expected to entail long-term costs. However, the mechanisms that mediate these growth adjustments and any associated costs are less well understood. In vertebrates, one mechanism that may be important in this context is the highly conserved signaling factor insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is frequently positively related to postnatal growth and negatively related to longevity. To test this idea, we exposed captive Franklin’s gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan) to a physiologically relevant nutritional stressor by restricting food availability during postnatal development and examined the effects on growth, IGF-1, and two potential biomarkers of cellular and organismal aging (oxidative stress and telomeres). During food restriction, experimental chicks gained body mass more slowly and had lower IGF-1 levels than controls. Following food restriction, experimental chicks underwent compensatory growth, which was accompanied by an increase in IGF-1 levels. Interestingly, however, there were no significant effects of the experimental treatment or of variation in IGF-1 levels on oxidative stress or telomeres. These findings suggest that IGF-1 is responsive to changes in resource availability but is not associated with increased markers of cellular aging during development in this relatively long-lived species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-91
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank several undergraduates who provided valuable husbandry assistance: G. Edland, S. Hjort, A. Kaip, D. Breit-bach, and A. Hett. We also thank A. Kucera for help with data collection and the rest of our lab group for support and feedback during this experiment. Additionally, we thank Rachel Bowden and Joe Casto for providing additional advice on reporting our hormone data and analysis. This work was funded by North Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ND EPSCoR; FAR0022429) and National Science Foundation (1845974) awards to B.J.H. All of the experimental procedures were approved by the North Dakota State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (A13056 and A15066).

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  • compensatory growth
  • growth rates
  • insulin-like growth factor 1
  • nutritional stress
  • telomere dynamics
  • telomeres

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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