Changes of urinary steroid conjugates and gonadotropin excretion in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy in the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti)



The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti) is one of the most endangered species in the world, and it is endemic to China. According to our knowledge, there was no information on reproduction for this species. The present study was designed to understand the characteristics of reproductive hormone secretion during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy of this species by monitoring urinary estrone conjugate (E1C), pregnanediol-3-glucuronide (PdG), bioactive follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). The urine samples were collected each day from four adult females for eight menstrual cycles, and once in 3 days during pregnancy (three full-term pregnancies, one mid-term abortion). The steroid conjugate was tested by radioimmunoassays (RIAs), and bioactive FSH and LH levels were measured in vitro by the sensitive bioassays granulosa cell aromatize bioassay (GAB) and rat interstitial cell testosterone (RICT), respectively. The results showed that: 1) E1C presented a preovulatory peak (183.9 ± 8.6 ng/mgCr) followed by a definite elevation of PdG; 2) PdG in the luteal phase (754.4 ± 30.6 ng/mgCr) was three- to fivefold higher than during the corresponding follicular phase (198.3 ± 11.4 ng/mgCr); 3) the peaks of bio-LH and bio-FSH were on the same day, while the E1C peak was 1 or 2 days before the peaks for these two hormones; 4) bio-FSH levels were higher in the follicular phase than in the luteal phase, and bio-LH levels elevated slightly in the luteal phase; 5) the mean cycle length was 23.6 ± 3.5 days (n = 3) based upon successive urinary LH peaks; 6) based on the interval from the day of E1C peak to the day of parturition, the gestation was 203.7 ± 2.5 days (n = 3); and 7) both E1C and PdG increased and remained high after pregnancy, with a sharp decrease in basal levels following parturition or mid-term abortion. The results suggested that the pattern of reproductive hormones for R. bieti is similar to that of other Old World monkeys, but the concentration of the hormones is different from that of other species. This species has a longer progestation period, which may be related to its classification status. Am. J. Primatol. 55:223–232, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.