Concentrations of sex steroid hormones in pregnant and fetal mongolian gerbils
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Sex steroid concentrations in the plasma of 24-day pregnant Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) and their male and female fetuses were measured using radioimmunoassays. It was found that, on Day 24 of gestation: (a) androgen levels were higher in those male fetuses developing adjacent to no female fetuses than in those male fetuses developing between two female fetuses and (b) androgen levels were higher in those female fetuses developing between two male fetuses than in those female fetuses with no immediate, male neighbours. Further, plasma taken from 24-day pregnant dams that had exhibited vaginal opening at a relatively early age had significantly lower androgen levels and significantly higher estradiol levels than did plasma taken from 24-day pregnant dams that had exhibited relatively late vaginal opening. The data provide direct evidence of hormonal mediation of previously described differences both in the morphology and reproductive biology of male and female adult gerbils as a function both of their fetal intrauterine locations relative to members of the other sex and of the age at vaginal introitus of their respective dams.
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