The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Differences in urinary progesterone metabolites levels in two populations of peri-menopausal women in Argentina: Early developmental effects?


1Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 2Reproductive Ecology Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, 3Chaco Area Reproductive Ecology Program, University of Pennsylvania

Friday 5:30-5:45, Galleria North Add to calendar

The variation in women’s reproductive hormone levels between and within populations is remarkable. Part of this variation can be explained by current local ecologies, but it is becoming increasingly evident that hormone levels may be set very early during development in response to environmental cues. The goal of this study was to evaluate luteal progesterone levels in two populations that live in the same geographic region but differ in genetic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle background. These populations have clear-cut differences in developmental and lifestyle histories.

We sampled two populations of peri-menopausal women (age >40, n=60) in Formosa, Argentina. The Toba are an indigenous population that has recently undergone a transition from a hunter-gather lifestyle to a peri-urban settlement. The other population draws from women of relatively high SES neighborhoods in Formosa capital.

We collected anthropometric, lifestyle and reproductive history data. We also collected urine samples every-other-day for two consecutive cycles for each of the participants. Samples were analyzed for PdG using enzyme-immunoassays. Women in both groups were well-nourished and showed similar BMI values (Toba: 31.2 ± 6.0 kg/m2; Non-indigenous: 28.6 ± 5.3 kg/m2). With few exceptions, both groups can be characterized as sedentary. Toba women showed lower PdG baseline levels and luteal PdG peaks of lesser magnitude compared to non-indigenous women. However, there was no significant difference in maximum luteal PdG values between the groups.

These results seem to support the hypothesis that local ecologies, particularly those of early developmental years, help set reproductive hormone levels later in adulthood.

This study was funded by the NIA P30 Demography of Aging (AG 012836-15) Pilot Award.

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