Luppa, Peter; Müller, Burkhardt; Jacob, Karl; Kimmig, Rainer; Strowitzki, Thomas; Höss, Cornelia; Weber, Michael M.; Engelhardt, Dieter; Lobo, Rogerio A.
Variations of Steroid Hormone Metabolites in Serum and Urine in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
after Nafarelin Stimulation:
Evidence for an Altered Corticoid Excretion.
In: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 80, No. 1: pp. 280-288
To evaluate the clinical relevance of testing pituitary-ovarian responses in patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) with the GnRH agonist nafarelin, a 1.2-mg dose of nafarelin was given intranasally to 19 women with PCOS and 15 healthy premenopausal women. The subsequent analysis of steroids in both serum and urine during the test was carried out at several time points for up to 24 h. Serum levels of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone were elevated at all time points of the test in PCOS patients vs. controls [at baseline, 3.5 +/- 0.2 vs. 1.8 +/- 0.1 nmol/L (P < 0.001); at 24 h, 9.9 +/- 0.9 vs. 4.9 +/- 0.3 nmol/L (P < 0.001)]. Basal levels of androstenedione were higher in the patient group, but there was no significant change during the test in either group. Serum testosterone levels were also found to differ in PCOS patients compared with the control values at baseline (2.2 +/- 0.2 vs. 1.5 +/- 0.1 nmol/L; P < 0.05) and after nafarelin treatment (at 24 h, 3.2 +/- 0.4 vs. 1.8 +/- 0.2 nmol/L; P < 0.05). Serum estradiol levels rose significantly in both groups during the test; the posttest levels were significantly higher in PCOS than in controls. The PCOS patients displayed a significant increase in androgen and gestagen metabolites as well as in glucocorticoid metabolites excreted in the urine during the 24 h. In the control subjects, except for 17 alpha-hydroxypregnanolone, which rose significantly, none of the urinary steroids investigated showed relevant changes during the nafarelin test. The posttest excretion of allo-tetrahydrocortisol (1.4 +/- 0.2 vs. 0.3 +/- 0.1 mumol/g creatinine; P < 0.001) and the increase in 17 alpha-hydroxypregnanolone excretion (1.4 +/- 0.2 vs. 0.3 +/- 0.1 mumol/g creatinine; P < 0.001) were distinctly higher in PCOS patients than in the controls; the diagnostic sensitivity of the combination of both parameters was 89% at a 93% specificity. Thus, measurements of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone levels in serum and of urinary allo-tetrahydrocortisol and 17 alpha-hydroxypregnanolone after nafarelin treatment make this stimulation test a valuable diagnostic tool for identifying PCOS patients. The significant changes in the excretion of urinary androgen and gestagen metabolites, unmasked by GnRH agonist stimulation, suggest a functional alteration of the pituitary-ovarian axis. The reason for the increased excretion of glucocorticoid metabolites after nafarelin stimulation remains to be clarified.