Characterization of circulating steroid hormone profiles in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS)
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Characterization of circulating steroid hormone profiles in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS)

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  • Journal Title:
    General and Comparative Endocrinology
  • Description:
    Systemic steroid hormone measurements are often used in the assessment of reproductive, developmental, and stress physiology in vertebrates. In protected wildlife, such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), these measures can provide critical information about health and fitness to aid in effective conservation and management. Circulating steroid hormone concentrations are typically measured by immunoassays, which have imperfect specificity and are limited to the measurement of a single hormone per assay. Here we demonstrate that reverse phase solid phase extraction (SPE) coupled to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) allows for the simultaneous, precise (<15% relative standard deviation), and accurate (between 70% and 120% recovery of spiked quantities) measurement of at least seven steroid hormones in dolphin plasma. These seven steroid hormones include three hormones that have been measured previously in bottlenose dolphin blood (progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol) and three hormones which have never been quantified in dolphin blood (17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, cortisone, and corticosterone). While 17β-estradiol was not detected endogenously, we were able to accurately and precisely measure spiked quantities estradiol. Measures from plasma were more precise (i.e., lower RSD) than serum, and thus we recommend plasma as the preferred matrix for this analytical method. In order to facilitate comparison of current and future plasma-based studies to previous serum-based studies, we characterized the relationships between hormone measurements in matched plasma and serum, and found that measurements across matrices are significantly and positively correlated. Lastly, to demonstrate potential applications of this method, we examined how steroid hormone profiles vary by pregnancy, sexual maturity, and stress status – pregnancy was associated with elevated progesterone, adult males had higher testosterone, and capture stress was associated with elevated corticosteroids. Overall, we conclude that this method will enable investigators to more thoroughly and efficiently evaluate steroid hormone homeostasis in bottlenose dolphins compared to immunoassay methods. These methods can potentially be applied to the assessment of sexual maturity/seasonality, pregnancy status, and stress in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins as well as those maintained under human care, and potentially other marine mammals.
  • Source:
    General and Comparative Endocrinology, 263, 80-91
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  • Rights Information:
    Accepted Manuscript
  • Rights Statement:
    This manuscript is made available under the Elsevier user license
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