Lipidomics and plasma hormone analysis differentiate reproductive and pregnancy statuses in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2024 Jun:50:101231. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2024.101231. Epub 2024 Apr 3.


Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) are protected as a threatened species, and data are lacking regarding their reproductive physiology. This study aimed to (1) quantify plasma steroid hormones in Florida manatees from two field sites, Crystal River and Indian River Lagoon, at different gestational stages and to (2) identify individual lipids associated with pregnancy status. Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric analysis was used to measure plasma steroid hormones and lipids. Pregnant female manatees were morphometrically distinct from male and non-pregnant female manatees, characterized by larger body weight and maximal girth. Progesterone concentrations in manatees were also elevated during early gestation versus late gestation. Cholesterol, an important metabolic lipid, and precursor for reproductive steroids, was not different between groups. Mass spectrometry quantified 949 lipids. Plasma concentrations of glycerophospholipids, glycerolipids, sphingolipids, acylcarnitines, and cholesteryl esters were associated with pregnancy status in the Florida manatee. Most of the lipid species associated with pregnancy were triacylglycerides, phosphatidylethanolamines, and ether-linked phosphatidylethanolamines, which may serve as energy sources for fetal development. This research contributes to improving knowledge of manatee reproductive physiology by providing data on plasma steroid hormones relative to reproductive status and by identifying plasma lipids that may be important for pregnancy. Elucidation of lipid species directly associated with pregnancy has the potential to serve as a diagnostic approach to identify pregnant individuals in fresh and archived samples. These biochemical and morphometric indicators of reproductive status advance the understanding of manatee physiology.

Keywords: Florida manatee; Lipidomics; Pregnancy indicators; Progesterone; Reproduction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Lipidomics*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction
  • Trichechus manatus* / blood


  • Lipids