Headspace solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for the determination of 5alpha-androst-2-en-17-one and -17beta-ol in the female Asian elephant: application for reproductive monitoring and prediction of parturition

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Feb;84(2-3):383-91. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(03)00056-6.


Asian elephants are not self-sustaining in captivity. The main reasons for this phenomenon are a low birth rate, an aging population, and poor calf-rearing. Therefore, it is essential that reproductive rates had to be improved and there is need for rapid quantitative measures to monitor reproductive functions focussing on estrous detection and the prediction of the period of parturition. The objective of this study was to develop a method which combines headspace solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for analyses of 5alpha-androst-2-en-17beta-ol and -17-one to prognose estrous and to predict the period of parturition. SPME was carried out with a CTC Combi Pal system. The course of the luteal phase-specific substance 5alpha-androst-2-en-17beta-ol and -17-one followed a cyclic pattern in which the follicular and luteal phases could be clearly distinguished (mean estrous cycle length, 15+/-1.4 weeks). Based on daily urine samples, estrous prognosis might be possibly based on the initial 5alpha-androst-2-en-17beta-o1 increase at the end of the follicular phase. Parturition prognosis was performed in three elephant cows based on the 5alpha-androst-2-en-17beta-o1 drop to baseline levels 5-4 days prior parturition. Experiments revealed that 5alpha-androst-3alpha-ol-17-one and probably 5alpha-androst-3alpha-ol-17beta-ol are generated from sulfate conjugates by a thermal process.

MeSH terms

  • Androstane-3,17-diol / blood*
  • Androsterone / blood*
  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Clinical / methods*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Elephants
  • Estrous Cycle
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Parturition / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / blood
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Androstane-3,17-diol
  • Androsterone