2002 Volume 64 Issue 4 Pages 329-333
To study luteal function in the late gestational period of Phocidae (seals), we analyzed the localization of steroidogenic enzymes (P450scc, 3βHSD and P450arom) and prolactin receptors in the corpora lutea of pregnant spotted seals (Larga seal; Phoca largha) immunohistochemically. P450scc, 3βHSD and prolactin receptors were present in all luteal cells of each corpus luteum, and most luteal cells were immunostained for P450arom. Although we analyzed only two specimens, P450scc, 3βHSD and prolactin receptors were negatively immunostained in the placentae. P450arom was present in the syncytiotrophoblast of placentae. These findings suggest that 1) the corpus luteum of the spotted seal synthesizes pregnenolone, progesterone and estrogen during late gestational period, 2) the placenta of this species do not possess the capacity to synthesize progesterone, and 3) like other terrestrial carnivores, this species requires prolactin to maintain the corpus luteum during pregnancy. These characteristics support the recent classification of family Phocidae in the order Carnivora, and suggest a relationship between prolactin and reproductive failure during the post-implantation period in pinnipeds.