Prolactin levels in western lowland gorillas

Shannon Laughlin, Thomas Meehan, Michael J. Zinaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hyperprolactinemia is known to cause menstrual irregularity and infertility in humans. However, little is known about the role of prolactin in menstruation and fertility in Western Lowland gorillas. To create a database of prolactin values in gorillas, we have performed immunoassays on serum specimens dating back to 1983 from nine female gorillas at the Brookfield Zoo. We matched these samples with documented behavioral data to correlate menstrual timing. In addition, we ran other reproductive hormones both to aid in determining the phase of the menstrual cycle and to evaluate the effect of the prolactin on suppression of these hormones during the premenarchal and postpartum phases. We found that values for luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, estradiol and progesterone cycle in very similar patterns to humans. Based on the 59 available samples, prolactin was found to be higher in gorillas than in humans in nearly every phase of the menstrual cycle (range 49.9-93.7 ng/mL) and such levels do not appear to alter the reproductive axis as it does in humans. Thus, prolactin may have a different impact on fertility in gorillas than it does in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-900
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Gorilla
  • Hormones
  • Prolactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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