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Roth, T.L.; Donelan, E.M.; Rispoli, L.A.; Reilly, T., 2023. Prolactin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for rhinoceros - Another tool for assessing reproductive function and dysfunction in this taxon. Theriogenology Wild 2 (26 May 2023) 100035: 1-7, with supplemental data

Location: America - North America
Subject: Reproduction - Management methods
Species: All Rhino Species

Original text on this topic:
For decades, progesterone and its metabolites have served as the primary biomarkers for monitoring reproductive activity in rhinoceroses, whereas protein hormones have received little attention despite their potential value in understanding reproductive function and dysfunction in this taxon. The goals of this study were to: 1) identify an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) effective in measuring rhinoceros serum prolactin, 2) generate representative prolactin data in male and female rhinoceroses in diverse reproductive states, and 3) characterize prolactin throughout pregnancy in a white rhinoceros that exhibited mid-gestation lactation. Our results indicated that an equine prolactin ELISA by CUSABIO® is effective in measuring serum prolactin concentrations in white, black and Sumatran rhinoceroses. Preliminary data suggested that prolactin is lowest in males and acyclic females, but also appeared low during post-partum lactation. In contrast, prolactin concentrations were elevated in pregnant females and moderate in sexually mature females experiencing reproductive cyclicity. Prolactin increased following conception and generally continued to rise throughout pregnancy in the one pregnant white rhinoceros profiled herein. Spikes and dips in prolactin and progesterone, respectively, were documented around the time of mid-gestation mammary development and colostrum production in this individual and may provide some clues into the physiological triggers of this newly described aberrant reproductive condition. In conclusion, we have identified a new tool for studying reproductive activity in rhinoceroses, generated preliminary data, and revealed an intriguing relationship between prolactin fluctuations and premature lactation. This work provides the foundation for larger, focused studies on the role of prolactin in this taxon.

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