, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 385–392

Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), sex, and age in zoo-housed western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10329-017-0602-2

Cite this article as:
Edes, A.N. Primates (2017) 58: 385. doi:10.1007/s10329-017-0602-2


Among humans, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) declines with age and is hypothesized to be involved in somatic maintenance and healthy aging. Men have significantly higher DHEA-S than women, contradicting longer lifespans in the latter. Declines of DHEA-S with age also are observed in chimpanzees. In both chimpanzees and bonobos, males and females show no differences in DHEA-S production. Based on human and chimpanzee data, gorillas were predicted to show declining DHEA-S with age. Similar to chimpanzees and bonobos, it also was predicted DHEA-S would not be significantly different between males and females. DHEA-S was assayed from serum banked during physical examinations of gorillas housed at three North American zoos (n = 63). Gorillas ranged from 6 to 52 years of age. Differences between males and females were examined using t tests. Linear regression was used to determine the relationship of DHEA-S with age. There was no significant difference in DHEA-S between males and females. Additionally, there was no significant relationship between DHEA-S and age. As predicted, there were no sex-based differences in DHEA-S in gorillas, which is similar to chimpanzees and bonobos but different from modern humans. Unlike chimpanzees and humans, there was no significant relationship between DHEA-S and age in gorillas. The absence of a relationship between age and DHEA-S may be due to the lack of gorillas under age 6 years in this sample as declines in chimpanzees occur prior to age 5 years, more rapid growth and development among gorillas compared with other African hominoids, or a unique pattern of DHEA-S production.


Great apes Captivity Aging HPA axis 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
    Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

      Copyright information

      © Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2017

      Authors and Affiliations

      1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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