Fertility in the male gorilla (Gorilla gorilla): Relationship to semen parameters and serum hormones

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Abstract

Circulating levels of steroid and protein hormones were measured in 17 adult male lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). The population included both fertile and infertile males as identified by previous siring of offspring and presence or absence of spermatozoa in the ejaculate obtained by rectal probe electrostimulation.

Correlations were sought between levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androstenedione, estrone, estradiol, progesterone, 170H-progesterone, dihydroepiandrosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and potential fertility status.

The results identify normal circulating levels of these hormones, and indicate that aspermatogenesis and infertility are not necessarily associated with any alteration in levels of gonadal steroids. There is an association of aspermatogenesis with elevation of FSH. Levels of adrenal androgens are more similar to other non-human primates than to the human, which is of interest because in other aspects of reproductive physiology so far investigated the gorilla has proved to resemble the human more closely than it does the other nonhuman primates.

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