Unexpected long-term retention of subcutaneous beeswax implants and additional notes on dose and composition from four testosterone implant studies

Jordan Boersma, Alexandra McQueen, Anne Peters, Joseph F. Welklin, Sarah Khalil, René Quispe, Wolfgang Goymann, Hubert Schwabl

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Experimental manipulations of testosterone have advanced our understanding of the hormonal control of traits across vertebrates. Implants are commonly used to supplement testosterone and other hormones to organisms, as they can be readily scaled to produce desired hormone levels in circulation. Concerns about pharmacological (i.e. unnatural) doses of traditional silastic implants led to innovation in implant methods, with time-release pellets and beeswax implants proposed as solutions. A study comparing silastic, time-release pellets, and beeswax implants found the latter to be most effective in delivering a physiologically relevant dose. One proposed advantage to subcutaneous beeswax implants is that they are expected to degrade within the body, thus removing the obligation to recapture implanted individuals in the field. However, few studies have reported on dosage and no published literature has examined the assumption that beeswax implants readily degrade as expected. Here we present time-release androgen data in relation to implants containing varying levels of testosterone from four separate implant studies. In addition, we report long-term persistence of subcutaneous implants, including two cases of implants being retained for > 2 years. Finally, we offer recommendations on the composition and implementation of beeswax implants to aid the pursuit of minimally invasive and physiologically relevant manipulations of circulating hormones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114124
Number of pages6
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Androgens
  • Endocrinology
  • Exogenous hormone
  • Fairy-wren
  • Zebra finch

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