Progesterone concentration in the marsupial Sminthopsis macroura: Relationship with the conceptus, uterine glandularregeneration and body weight

E. M. Menkhorst, L A Hinds, Lynne Selwood

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Close examination of hormonal profiles and uterine morphology in the marsupial reproductive cycle highlights significant differences between pregnant and non-pregnant cycles. In the polyovular dasyurid marsupial Sminthopsis macroura, we identified changes associated with gestation by comparing ovarian and plasma progesterone concentrations, uterine weights, uterine epithelial mitoses, body weights and gestation lengths between pregnant and non-pregnant luteal phases. The plasma progesterone profile of S. macroura was biphasic, peaking during unilaminar blastocyst expansion and on the day of implantation. Periods of rapid embryonic development were associated with increasing plasma progesterone concentrations and animal body weight. For the first time in a polyovular marsupial, we identified 1) a correlation between ovarian progesterone concentration and conceptus number during the luteal phase just prior to implantation (total ovarian progesterone), indicating a conceptus influence on progesterone concentration; 2) a pulse of uterine epithelial mitotic activity at the time of implantation and 3) increased mitotic activity in pregnant animals during unilaminar blastocyst formation compared with non-pregnant animals. Gestation length was reduced by up to 15%, due to the loss of, or reduction in, the four-cell arrest and more rapid definitive blastocyst expansion. This is the first time a conceptus influence on gestation length has been identified in a dasyurid. This study provides further evidence for the modification of the luteal phase by pregnancy in S. macroura.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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