Abstract # 78:

Scheduled for Friday, June 20, 2008 03:45 PM-03:55 PM: Session 8 (Meeting Room 1GHI) Oral Presentation


Maternal androgen levels during pregnancy are associated with early-life growth and aggressive behavior of offspring in Geoffroy’s marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi)

A. S. Smith1,2 and J. A. French1,2,3
1Department of Psychology, UNOmaha, Omaha, NE 68182-0274, USA, 2Callitrichid Research Center, UNOmaha, Omaha, NE, 68182, 3Department of Biology, UNOmaha, Omaha, NE 68182-0040
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     Variation in maternal androgen levels during gestation may affect offspring growth and aggression. High testosterone levels in the intrauterine environment depress metabolic rates and fetal insulin-like-growth factor levels. Therefore, high maternal testosterone levels may retard intrauterine development and subsequent growth of offspring during early-life. Additionally, high maternal testosterone levels may result in more aggression displayed by offspring. If maternal androgen affects offspring growth and aggression, then high maternal gestational testosterone levels should be associated with low growth rates and more aggression of offspring. Maternal testosterone levels in marmoset females were measured using enzyme immunoassays during 11 pregnancies. Somatic measurements of the resulting 19 offspring were taken on days 2 and 30 postpartum, and an ANCOVA change score was calculated. Juvenile aggressive play behavior of 19 offspring was averaged across two month intervals. High birth weight and thigh circumference was associated with positive growth. Maternal testosterone accounted for 24.1% and 24.0% of the variance in weight [FD(1,16)=19.67, p<0.001] and thigh circumference [FD(1,16)=10.00, p<0.01], respectively. High maternal testosterone levels were associated with depressed growth rates of offspring. Maternal testosterone accounted for 50.8% of the variance of juvenile aggressive play behavior during weeks 23-32 [F(1,16)=16.53, p<0.001]. Juveniles displayed fewer aggressive play behaviors when exposed to high levels of maternal gestational testosterone. Maternal gestational androgen has a significant impact on offspring growth and aggression. Supported by NIH (HD-42882), NSF (IBN00-91030), and UCRCA.