Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a potent neuropeptide, is produced by the placenta of anthropoid primates. No other mammals, including prosimian primates, are known to produce placental CRH. In humans, placental CRH appears to play an important role in the progression of pregnancy to parturition. Maternal circulating CRH begins to rise early in pregnancy and increases until parturition. Gorillas and chimpanzees share this pattern of increasing maternal CRH during pregnancy with humans. In humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas, maternal CRH and estradiol concentrations are correlated, consistent with the hypothesis that CRH is involved in the biosynthetic pathway for placental estrogen production. In contrast, in baboons, maternal circulating CRH rises precipitously early in pregnancy and then declines, though CRH is detectable until birth. This research was designed to investigate the pattern of maternal circulating CRH in the common marmoset during pregnancy. Blood samples were taken across gestation from nine subjects over 11 pregnancies, and the plasma was assayed for CRH. The pattern of maternal circulating CRH in the common marmoset was similar to that of the baboon, with a rapid rise starting at about 50 days postconception and a peak at approximately 70 days postconception. By 110 days postconception, CRH concentration had plateaued at a significantly lower value. The peak and mean values for CRH were associated with fetal number (e.g., females gestating triplets had higher values than females gestating twins). Urinary estradiol showed no association with plasma CRH concentration. Marmosets appear to differ from the great apes in this regard, and to share a pattern of maternal CRH during pregnancy with the baboon, indicating that the baboon and marmoset pattern may be ancestral. The function of the early rapid rise of CRH in baboons and marmosets, and the significance of this difference between monkeys and apes, are not known.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology