The endocrinology laboratory provides principally two main levels of service for helping to support research projects or providing information on the hormonal status of zoo animals. The two levels are i) a “full service” whereby all work (sample preparation, extraction, hormone quantification, calculation of results and interpretation) is entirely performed by the assay services personnel together with the head of the lab and ii) a “partial service” where doctoral students or post-doctoral scientists help with sample preparation and analysis of their own samples after having been trained by us. The latter is preferred by us when samples have not been already processed by the customer (e.g. dried or extracted in the case of faeces), when the number of samples to be analyzed is high (e.g. >250 in case of unprocessed faeces), and when there is mutual scientific interest in the project. For low sample numbers and routine diagnostics (i.e. reproductive monitoring as often requested by zoos), only the “full-service” option is available.
The level of service available for a specific request as well as delivery and handling time of samples will be estimated upon consultation. We use enzyme immunoassays (EIA) for all hormone measurements; at the time more than 15 assays are routinely used. Samples are all analyzed in duplicate and all analytical procedures are subject to quality management.
Costs of analysis differ according to the preparatory and analytical steps involved, type of analysis performed and the hormone(s) to be measured and are as follows:
|Analysis/Sample type||Minimum/Maximum |
|Charges (without tax)**|
|Steroids blood (plasma, serum)||0,1 ml/2,0 ml||10,00 - 15,00 Euro|
|Steroids urine (incl. creatinine analysis)||0,1 ml/1,0 ml||9,50 - 15,00 Euro|
|Steroids unprocessed faeces||0,5 g/5,0 g||11,00 - 15,00 Euro|
|Steroids faecal extract||0,5 ml||9,50 - 12,00 Euro|
|Steroids saliva||0,2 ml/1,0 ml||12,00 - 15,00 Euro|
|C-Peptide blood (serum, plasma)||0,5 ml||13,00 Euro***|
|C-Peptide urine (incl. creatinine)||0,5 ml||13,50 Euro***|
|Neopterin blood (serum, plasma)||0,2 ml||16,00 Euro***|
|Neopterin urine (incl. creatinine)||0,2 ml||16,50 Euro***|
*depends on the species and hormone to be analysed. Collection of large sample volumes/mass is not necessary and should generally be avoided. ** Prices refer to the analysis of one hormone per unprocessed sample and use of the “full service” option (see above). Charges for the “partial service” option as part of a scientific collaboration are lower. *** Price refers to a quorum of 30 samples. Charges fo analysis of lower sample numbers are higher (depending on the actual number of samples).
Limitations and customer risks
Since each animal species (even closely related ones) metabolizes hormones in a unique manner and thus may excrete structurally different metabolites into urine and faeces , we might be unable to offer non-invasive hormone monitoring for a particular species. For this reason, we can offer this methodology with guaranteed results only for species for which we have prior experience and successfully proven hormone assays available. If a customer explicitly requests urinary or faecal hormone analysis for a species for which we have no analytical expertise, reliable results cannot be guaranteed. However, we are continuously refining our methods and validate techniques for use in more (primate) species. If we have no method available for the species you are interested in, there might be the possibility to establish and validate such a method within the scope of our abilities. In this case, we will ask you to provide additional reference samples for biological validation (which extra samples we need is dependent on the research question and needs to be discussed). The analytical costs will have to be paid for all procedures we conduct as part of the validation, irrespective of whether the validation is successful or not.
If hormone results are to be published in a scientific journal, reviewers will most likely request data on assay evaluation and biological validation.