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Open Access The Effects of Aging on Hormone and Reproductive Cycles in Female Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

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In contrast to those for human females, observational cycle data available for chimpanzees suggest that menstrual cycling, and thus reproductive potential, continues until near death. This study documents age-related changes in estrous cycling and hormone profiles in 14 female chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) ranging in age from 31 to 50 y. Estrous data were analyzed from daily cycle charts, averaging 13.3 y of cycle data per subject, after omission of gestational and postpartum amenorrhea. Concentrations of total luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (E2), and other hormones were assayed in serum samples taken biannually. Sample collection times were chosen to avoid the ovulatory LH and FSH peaks of the female's cycle and yielded a mean of 19.6 serum samples over an average of 14.4 y per subject. Analysis of cycle charts revealed a negative relationship between age and the percentage of cycle days at maximal tumescence. There also were positive relationships between age and the length of the estrous cycle and age and the percentage of cycle days at complete detumescence. Analysis of hormonal data revealed curvilinear relationships between age and both LH and FSH. These cycle and hormonal changes mirror those in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Our data provide evidence of perimenopause (at 30 to 35 y) and menopause (at 35 to 40 y) in the chimpanzee.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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