Plasma prolactin concentrations during lactation, pouch young development and the return to behavioural oestrus in captive koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2015 May 29. doi: 10.1071/RD14384. Online ahead of print.


Plasma prolactin (PRL) concentrations in captive koalas during lactation were determined by serial blood sampling. PRL concentrations were low (1.3 ± 0.1 ng mL-1; n = 5) during early lactation until pouch young (PY) began to emerge from the pouch (around Day 130) before significantly (P < 0.05) increasing between Day 161 and Day 175 (5.3 ± 1.0 ng mL-1). A significant (P < 0.001) peak in PRL (7.7 ± 0.6 ng mL-1) coincided with maturing young between Day 189 and Day 231. All females failed to exhibit any signs of oestrous behaviour until Day 268.8 ± 8.5 (n = 4), some 102 ± 19 days before PY were weaned following achieving target weights of 2.5-2.7 kg. Throughout lactation, plasma LH concentrations were relatively high (range 4.9-8.7 ng mL-1) and LH responses to exogenous gonadotrophin-releasing hormone were observed in all koalas at all times during lactation.