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Representative C21, C19 and C18 steroids have been measured in the amniotic fluid and maternal femoral plasma of rhesus monkeys during the last 50 days of pregnancy. The concentrations of cortisol, progesterone, androstenedione, oestrone and oestrone sulphate all increased in amniotic fluid before spontaneous parturition. In contrast, amniotic fluid oestradiol levels remained low and unchanged, and were always less than the concentrations in the maternal plasma. The changes in progesterone, cortisol and oestrone concentrations in amniotic fluid occurred independently of significant changes in the concentration of these steroids in the maternal plasma. Betamethasone administered to monkeys after day 150 of pregnancy suppressed amniotic fluid and maternal plasma cortisol. This treatment markedly suppressed the concentration of progesterone in amniotic fluid, but did not alter its concentration in maternal plasma. It is concluded that during late pregnancy in the rhesus monkey there is an increase in the concentration of some steroids in amniotic fluid independent of alterations in their concentrations in maternal plasma. These changes could reflect an increase in foetal adrenal steroid secretion.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Endocrinology

Publication Date





355 - 363