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Journal Article

Relationships between Hair Melanization, Glutathione Levels, and Senescence in Wild Boars

Ismael Galván, Carlos Alonso-Alvarez and Juan J. Negro
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches
Vol. 85, No. 4 (July/August 2012), pp. 332-347
DOI: 10.1086/666606
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/666606
Page Count: 16
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Relationships between Hair Melanization, Glutathione Levels, and Senescence in Wild Boars
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Abstract

AbstractThe synthesis of melanins, which are the most common animal pigments, is influenced by glutathione (GSH), a key intracellular antioxidant. At high GSH levels, pheomelanin (the lightest melanin form) is produced, whereas production of eumelanin (the darkest melanin form) does not require GSH. Oxidative damage typically increases with age, and age-related decreases in GSH have accordingly been found in diverse organisms. Therefore, there should be positive associations between the capacity to produce eumelanic traits, GSH levels, and senescence, whereas there should be negative associations between the capacity to produce pheomelanic traits, GSH levels, and senescence. We explored this hypothesis in a free-ranging population of wild boars Sus scrofa of different ages. As expected from the fact that pheomelanogenesis consumes GSH, levels of this antioxidant in muscle tended to be negatively related to pheomelanization and positively related to eumelanization in pelage, and the degree of pelage pheomelanization was positively related to oxidative damage as reflected by levels of thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substances (TBARS), which is consistent with the hypothesis that pheomelanin synthesis has physiological costs. In our cross-sectional sample, GSH levels did not show senescence effects, and we did not detect senescence effects in pelage melanization. Prime body condition and low TBARS levels were also associated with hair graying, which is attributable to a loss of melanin produced by oxidative stress, thus raising the possibility that hair graying constitutes a signal of resistance to oxidative stress in wild boars. Our results suggest that the degree of melanization is linked to GSH levels in wild boars and that their antioxidant damage shows senescence effects.

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