Assaying For Luteinizing Hormone and Applications to Managed and Assisted Reproduction in Captive Delphinids
In light of commonly-held conservation goals for various marine mammal species, aquaria in the last fifteen years have focused on devising managed breeding programs and assisted reproductive technologies to maintain genetically diverse and healthy species stocks on a global basis. At the Miami Seaquarium, from February through August 2004, serum was regularly collected from two cycling female Lagenorhynchus obliquidens (Lags). Blood and urine were regularly collected from two cycling female Tursiops August through October 2004. Blood serum and urine were assayed for progesterone (P2) and estrogen conjugates (E2) by radio-immunoassay (RIA) by two outside laboratories. Qualitative assays for LH have been performed using the ICG Status-LH® kit (Synbiotics Corp.), a canine qualitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit first used for this purpose by the Mirage Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. A quantitative ELISA is being developed to provide a novel, rapid, accurate assay to users, and reference curves for purified dolphin LH and P2 will be published. LH peaks to date have been tightly correlated with ultrasound images of dominant follicles, estrus behavior, and female receptivity of AI, and well correlated with vaginal tract cytology. Determination of a bench top, quantitative ELISA for LH will allow managers to pinpoint the 12-24 period when AI or managed breeding will be most effective, and coordination of ovulation prediction, with semen collection and freezing on a national or international basis.