Plasma relaxin levels in pregnant and lactating dogs

Biol Reprod. 1987 Oct;37(3):719-25. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod37.3.719.


The pattern of plasma relaxin has been studied during pregnancy and following parturition in two breeds of dogs, Labrador retrievers and beagle hounds. Blood samples were collected at weekly intervals following mating and during pregnancy, parturition, and lactation. Relaxin, progesterone, and estradiol-17 beta were determined by specific double antibody radioimmunoassays. Immunoreactive relaxin (IR) was not detectable in plasma of male dogs, bitches in anestrous, or pseudopregnant bitches that had undergone an infertile mating. IR was first detectable in plasma in the third or fourth week of gestation in retrievers and beagles. IR levels rose to a peak of 4-5 ng/ml in both breeds. The peak plasma levels were reached 2-3 wk before whelping and declined significantly prior to that event. IR then persisted during lactation at a level of 0.5-2 ng/ml for 4-9 wk, but was significantly higher (p less than 0.01) at all time periods and persisted longer in labradors than in beagles. The secretion of relaxin did not parallel that of progesterone, which was highly elevated in the first samples drawn (during the first week of pregnancy), remained high through 5 or 6 wk of gestation, then slowly declined until the time of parturition, becoming undetectable during lactation. Plasma estradiol-17 beta was low after the second week of pregnancy in both breeds of dogs and became undetectable during lactation. The source of relaxin in the dog is not known currently, and its sites of secretion and role in pregnancy are currently under investigation in our laboratories. The dog is the first species in which plasma IR is detectable during lactation using antibody R6.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Lactation / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / blood*
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Pseudopregnancy / blood
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Relaxin / blood*


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Relaxin