Non-invasive repeated measurement of urinary progesterone, 17β-estradiol, and testosterone in developing, cycling, pregnant, and postpartum female mice
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Excretory samples from adult female mice were collected non-invasively during development, estrous cycling, pregnancy, and postpartum. In initial studies, urinary measures were statistically more dynamic over days than were fecal measures; thus subsequent studies focused on urine. Higher 17beta-estradiol levels were present in isolated females than in those exposed to males. In cycling females, urinary 17beta-estradiol was more variable than were measures of testosterone or progesterone, showing peaks with an approximate 5-day periodicity. When urinary estradiol and progesterone were monitored in conjunction with vaginal smear cell counts, patterns were idiosyncratic; most females showed distinct peaks in urinary steroids, not in clear synchrony with vaginal cell cornification. Levels of progesterone rose markedly during the first 10 days of pregnancy, then declined before birth. Estradiol showed a substantial peak on days 7-8 of gestation in all females measured. Urinary testosterone was not dynamic during pregnancy, but rose in immediate prenatal and postpartum measures. During post-weaning, pre-pubertal development, urinary levels of progesterone remained constant but levels of estradiol rose substantially over time.
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