Life Cycle of Feline Corpora lutea: Histological and Intraluteal Hormone Analysis


Author's address (for correspondence): K Jewgenow, Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, PF 700430, D-10324 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


The corpus luteum (CL) is a transient hormone gland on the ovary that produces progesterone (P4) for the maintenance of pregnancy. It develops from residual follicular granulosa and theca cells after ovulation. Very little is known about the cellular and hormonal processes within CLs obtained from pregnant and pseudopregnant felids. Therefore, our aim was to review the luteal function in feline CLs of different reproductive stages in conjunction with our data obtained in domestic cats and Eurasian lynxes. Corpus luteum function in lynxes is of particular interest, as a post-partum luteal activity was suggested based on repeated ultrasonography and endocrine examinations. Histology of CL from pregnant and pseudopregnant domestic cats clearly reflects the luteal function. The formation of the CL after ovulation is characterized by transforming of theca and granulosa cells into steroidogenic luteal cells and is accompanied by increased intraluteal and circulating P4 levels. Luteal regression is steadily progressive; the first signs (coarsed vacuolization, increased proportion of non-steroidogenic cells) are visible already in CL from the second trimester of pregnancy.