Urinary gonadotropin and estrogen excretion during the postpartum estrus, conception, and pregnancy in the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus)



Hormonal profiles during postpartum estrus, time of conception, and pregnancy were determined in urine samples from six cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus oedipus). Noninvasive collection techniques permitted daily sampling throughout lactation and pregnancy. Urinary estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and both bioactive and immunoreactive luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin (LH/CG) measures revealed an interval of 19 ± 2.07 (S E M) days between parturition and the postpartum ovulatory LH peak. An increase in both E1 and E2 was seen prior to the LH peak; however, E1 and E2 continued to increase to their highest concentrations after the LH peak. Since postpartum ovulations resulted in pregnancy, neither postpartum estrus nor conception was suppressed by lactation. The length of gestation (measured from the LH peak to parturition) was 183.7 ± 1.14 (S E M) days, which is at least 30 days longer than that previously reported for other callitrichid species. Both E1 and E2 reached their maximum levels during midpregnancy but showed a rapid decline at parturition. Gestational levels of CG were first detectable approximately 20 days after the LH peak and continued to be elevated for approximately 80 days. The Sub-Human Primate Tube Test (SHPTT) for pregnancy did not detect the LH Peak and was less sensitive than other methods in detecting CG. Two RIA methods and a bioassay technique could not distinguish between LH and CG. We concluded that monitoring both estrogen and LH concentration was needed to determine when ovulation occurs in the cotton-top tamarin, since peak values of estrogen are seen after the ovulatory LH peak. Also, these tamarins were pregnant the majority of the time, indicating an unusually high fertility rate in contrast to most noncallitrichid primate species.