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Dead or alive? Predicting fetal loss in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) by fecal metabolites
Rafaela S.C. Takeshita, Michael A. Huffman, Keiko Mouri, Keiko Shimizu, Fred B. Bercovitch

Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS) is the main steroid product of the primate fetal adrenal during mid to late gestation and it plays a major role in providing estrogens needed for parturition. We tested the hypothesis that this hormone can indicate fetal health status and attempted to use fecal DHEAS (fDHEAS) to predict pregnancy outcome in Japanese macaques. The subjects were 16 adult females and 3 neonatal Japanese macaques living in captivity at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University. We classified females that gave birth to healthy infants as successful and females that gave birth to dead infants as stillbirth (late fetal loss) and miscarriage (early fetal loss). The remaining females did not become pregnant and were used as controls. We collected fecal samples from all cycling, pregnant, and post-pregnant females as well as the three neonates for analysis of fDHEAS, fecal estrogen (fE) and fecal progesterone (fP) by enzyme immunoassay. We found that fE and fP increased during gestation in both successful and stillbirth groups, but increased only during the first two months in the female that had a miscarriage. Levels of fDHEAS only increased in the second half of gestation in successful pregnancies. Neonates had extremely elevated concentrations of fDHEAS in comparison to post-parturition females, which confirms that DHEAS metabolites are a product of the fetal adrenal. Low DHEAS levels could be a marker of an unsuccessful pregnancy in primates. Monitoring fDHEAS levels can be useful in zoos and institute management and can be applied to wild and free-ranging populations.

Animal Reproduction Science Available online 19 October 2016
2016/11/09 Primate Research Institute