Peripartum sex steroid profiles and endocrine correlates of postpartum maternal behavior in captive gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

  • Bahr N
  • Martin R
  • Pryce C
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Abstract

An association between pregnancy levels of estrogen and progesterone and maternal behavior has been demonstrated in several taxonomic orders of nonprimate and primate mammals, but has not so far been investigated in the gorilla. In this study we investigated whether prepartum titers of urinary estrone conjugates (E1C) or pregnanediol-3α-glucuronide (PdG) were related to postpartum maternal behavior in eight multiparous Western lowland gorilla females (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) housed in four zoological gardens. Urine samples were collected from each study animal for 14 days prepartum and 14 days postpartum, and measures of maternal responsiveness were scored during the first 15 days postpartum. Urine samples were assayed with radioimmunoassay for E1C and PdG. Results for the peripartum profiles of urinary E1C, as well as postpartum profiles of PdG, agree with previous findings for the gorilla, while results for late-pregnancy profiles of urinary PdG were inconclusive in confirming a prepartum increase or decrease. Neither prepartum levels of E1C or PdG, nor the E1C/PdG ratio were found to be related to measures of postpartum maternal behavior. This lack of association between late-pregnancy E1C titers per se and postpartum maternal behavior is contrary to findings in nonprimate and other primate species. © 2001 Elsevier Science.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Estrone conjugates
  • Gorilla
  • Great apes
  • Maternal behavior
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnanediol-glucuronide
  • RIA
  • Urine

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