Characteristics and regulation of the ovarian cycle in vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops)



This study was designed to evaluate the timecourse of ovarian and pituitary endocrine events throughout the menstrual cycle in the vervet monkey, and whether circulating luteinizing hormone (LH) or the uterus regulates the functional lifespan of the vervet corpus luteum. Daily saphenous blood samples were collected from adult females (1) during spontaneous menstrual cycles (n = 7), and (2) during cycles in which a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist (acyline) was administered for 3 days at midluteal phase (n = 3), and (3) for 30 days following recovery from hysterectomy (n = 4). Estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) levels were assayed using electrochemoluminescent assays. Gonadotropin levels were measured by radioimmunoassay using reagents developed for the assay of follicle-stimulating hormone and LH in macaques. Spontaneous cycles exhibited a midcycle E rise (476±49 pg/ml), engendering an LH surge, 12±1 days after onset of menses, followed by a luteal phase with peak P levels of 4.7±0.9 ng/ml. Histologic evaluation of the ovaries at late follicular phase or early luteal phase revealed the presence of a single, large Graafian follicle or developing corpus luteum, respectively. Acyline treatment caused a significant (P<0.05) decline in P levels (2.9±0.5 vs 0.5±0.3 ng/ml, 0 vs 48 h post-treatment) and premature menstruation compared with untreated controls (P<0.05). Hysterectomy had no apparent effect on the monthly pattern or levels of circulating E or P. Thus, the characteristics and regulation of the ovarian cycle in vervets appear similar to those in women and macaques, with cyclicity dependent on pituitary gonadotropin hormones and independent of a uterine luteolytic factor. Am. J. Primatol. 69:890–900, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.