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Publication
Journal: Biochemical Journal
May/1/2003
Authors
Publication
Journal: Nature
January/28/2009
Abstract
Aromatase cytochrome P450 is the only enzyme in vertebrates known to catalyse the biosynthesis of all oestrogens from androgens. Aromatase inhibitors therefore constitute a frontline therapy for oestrogen-dependent breast cancer. In a three-step process, each step requiring 1 mol of O(2), 1 mol of NADPH, and coupling with its redox partner cytochrome P450 reductase, aromatase converts androstenedione, testosterone and 16alpha-hydroxytestosterone to oestrone, 17beta-oestradiol and 17beta,16alpha-oestriol, respectively. The first two steps are C19-methyl hydroxylation steps, and the third involves the aromatization of the steroid A-ring, unique to aromatase. Whereas most P450s are not highly substrate selective, it is the hallmark androgenic specificity that sets aromatase apart. The structure of this enzyme of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane has remained unknown for decades, hindering elucidation of the biochemical mechanism. Here we present the crystal structure of human placental aromatase, the only natural mammalian, full-length P450 and P450 in hormone biosynthetic pathways to be crystallized so far. Unlike the active sites of many microsomal P450s that metabolize drugs and xenobiotics, aromatase has an androgen-specific cleft that binds the androstenedione molecule snugly. Hydrophobic and polar residues exquisitely complement the steroid backbone. The locations of catalytically important residues shed light on the reaction mechanism. The relative juxtaposition of the hydrophobic amino-terminal region and the opening to the catalytic cleft shows why membrane anchoring is necessary for the lipophilic substrates to gain access to the active site. The molecular basis for the enzyme's androgenic specificity and unique catalytic mechanism can be used for developing next-generation aromatase inhibitors.
Publication
Journal: European Journal of Clinical Investigation
January/29/1981
Abstract
With the aim of preventing postmenopausal bone loss, a placebo-controlled double-blind trial of 2 years duration was performed. We randomized 315 healthy volunteers in their early natural menopause to seven treatment and three placebo groups: 17 beta-oestradiol, oestriol and sequential norethisteron (hormones); bendroflumethiazide 5 mg/day (thiazide); hormones and thiazide; sodium fluoride 20 mg/day; vitamin D3 2000 IU/day (D3); fluoride and D3; and 1 alpha (OH) vitamin D3 0.25 microgram/day (1 alpha D3). All participants were given daily calcium supplement of 500 mg. Every 3 months we measured the bone mineral content (BMC) of both forearms by photon absorptiometry and chemical quantities in blood and 48 h urinary collections. The study was completed by 264 (84%). The combined placebo groups showed a linear fall in BMC reaching 3.3% after 2 years (P < 0.001). Hormones and hormones and thiazide led to a 2.5% gain in BMC (P < 0.01). Thiazide alone postponed the BMC fall for 6 months. After 2 years the thiazide group showed a BMC fall of 1.5% (P < 0.05), less than that of the placebo group (P < 0.05). BMC declined by 3.6%, 4.5%, 3.7% and 3.7% during the respective use of fluoride, D3, fluoride and D3 and 1 alpha D3. Nevertheless, the urinary calcium excretion during 1 alpha D3 and D3 treatment was 1--1.5 mmol/day higher than in the placebo groups. Apparently, there is no real alternative to oestrogen/gestagen in the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Publication
Journal: BMJ (Clinical research ed.)
December/22/1988
Abstract
The possibility of improving the effectiveness of antenatal screening for Down's syndrome by measuring human chorionic gonadotrophin concentrations in maternal serum during the second trimester to select women for diagnostic amniocentesis was examined. The median maternal serum human chorionic gonadotrophin concentration in 77 pregnancies associated with Down's syndrome was twice the median concentration in 385 unaffected pregnancies matched for maternal age, gestational age, and duration of storage of the serum sample. Measuring human chorionic gonadotrophin in maternal serum was an effective screening test, giving a lower false positive rate (3%) at a 30% detection rate than that for maternal age (5%) and the two existing serum screening tests, unconjugated oestriol (7%) and alpha fetoprotein (11%). The most effective screening results were obtained with all four variables combined; at the same 30% detection rate the false positive rate declined to 0.5%. The new screening method would detect over 60% of affected pregnancies, more than double that achievable with the same amniocentesis rate in existing programmes (5%), and could reduce the number of children born with Down's syndrome in the United Kingdom from about 900 a year to about 350 a year.
Publication
Journal: BMJ (Clinical research ed.)
November/18/1992
Abstract
OBJECTIVE
To assess the implementation of antenatal screening for Down's syndrome in practice, using individual risk estimates based on maternal age and the three serum markers: alpha fetoprotein, unconjugated oestriol, and human chorionic gonadotrophin.
METHODS
Demonstration project of Down's syndrome screening; women with a risk estimate at term of 1 in 250 or greater were classified as "screen positive" and offered diagnostic amniocentesis.
METHODS
Hospital and community antenatal clinics in four health districts in London.
METHODS
12,603 women of all ages with singleton pregnancies seen between February 1989 and the end of May 1991, with follow up of the outcome of pregnancy completed to the end of 1991.
METHODS
Uptake of screening, detection rate for Down's syndrome, false positive rate, odds of being affected given a positive result, and uptake of amniocentesis in women with positive screening results, together with the costs of the screening programme.
RESULTS
The uptake of screening was 74%. The detection rate was 48% (12/25), and the false positive rate was 4.1%, consistent with results expected from previous work based on observational studies. There was a loss of detection due to the selective use of ultrasound scans among women with positive screening results. One affected pregnancy occurred among 205 reclassified as negative; this illustrated the danger of false negatives occurring in this group and lends weight to the view that if an ultrasound estimate of gestational age is used it should be carried out routinely on all women rather than selectively among those with positive results. The estimated cost of avoiding the birth of a baby with Down's syndrome was about 38,000 pounds, substantially less than the lifetime costs of care.
CONCLUSIONS
Antenatal maternal serum screening for Down's syndrome is effective in practice and can be readily integrated into routine antenatal care. It is cost effective and performs better than selection for amniocentesis on the basis of maternal age alone.
Publication
Journal: Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
September/26/2003
Abstract
Animal biosynthesis of high polyunsaturated fatty acids from linoleic, alpha-linolenic and oleic acids is mainly modulated by the delta6 and delta5 desaturases through dietary and hormonal stimulated mechanisms. From hormones, only insulin activates both enzymes. In experimental diabetes mellitus type-1, the depressed delta6 desaturase is restored by insulin stimulation of the gene expression of its mRNA. However, cAMP or cycloheximide injection prevents this effect. The depression of delta6 and delta5 desaturases in diabetes is rapidly correlated by lower contents of arachidonic acid and higher contents of linoleic in almost all the tissues except brain. However, docosahexaenoic n-3 acid enhancement, mainly in liver phospholipids, is not explained yet. In experimental non-insulin dependent diabetes, the effect upon the delta6 and delta5 desaturases is not clear. From all other hormones glucagon, adrenaline, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, oestriol, oestradiol, testosterone and ACTH depress both desaturases, and a few hormones: progesterone, cortexolone and pregnanediol are inactive.
Publication
Journal: British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
December/21/1992
Abstract
OBJECTIVE
To determine the relative risk of developing a first acute myocardial infarction after treatment with oestrogens alone or oestrogen-progestogen combinations.
METHODS
Prospective cohort study utilizing a prescription-based and record linkage system for a follow-up period from 1977 to 1983. Average individual observation time was 5.8 years.
METHODS
The entire female population of the Uppsala Health Care Region (1.4 million inhabitants), one-sixth of the total Swedish population.
METHODS
23,174 women aged 35 years and older, identified from pharmacy records as having been prescribed non-contraceptive oestrogens during 1977-1980.
RESULTS
Admissions to hospitals for first acute myocardial infarctions.
RESULTS
Overall, 227 cases of a first acute myocardial infarction were observed as against 281:1 expected, RR = 0.81 (95% confidence limits 0.71 to 0.92). Women who were younger than 60 years at entry into the study and prescribed oestradiol compounds (1-2 mg) or conjugated oestrogens (0.625-1.25 mg) showed a significant 30% reduction of the relative risk (RR = 0.69, 0.54 to 0.86). Those prescribed a combined oestradiol-levonorgestrel brand also demonstrated a significantly lowered relative risk (RR = 0.53, 0.30 to 0.87). The risk estimates were near unity during the first year of follow-up but decreased during subsequent years. Exposure to the weak oestrogen oestriol did not alter the risk.
CONCLUSIONS
Hormonal replacement therapy with oestrogens alone, and maybe also when cyclically combined with progestogens, can reduce the risk of acute myocardial infarction.
Publication
Journal: Journal of steroid biochemistry
February/23/1988
Abstract
The easy stress-free, non-invasive nature of saliva collection makes it one of the most accessible body fluids and it is potentially of value in studying normal human physiology as well as pathology. Measurements of salivary hormone levels will usually only be of value if they reflect the plasma level of the hormone and the relationship between the saliva and plasma levels of many hormones have been studied by a number of groups. The measurement of the salivary level is a valuable clinical tool for some hormones (e.g. cortisol, oestriol, progesterone), is of little value for others (e.g. cortisone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, thyroxine, pituitary hormones) and for many others the saliva/plasma relationship is not yet sufficiently understood to assess the value of the salivary measurement. As well as reviewing the state of our knowledge of the salivary concentration of many hormones this review outlines a number of "rules of thumb" concerning the presence of hormones in saliva, their saliva/plasma relationship and the potential usefulness of assays of their salivary concentration.
Publication
Journal: British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
February/17/1989
Abstract
Obstetric cholestasis has been associated with a high incidence of stillbirth and perinatal complications. Between 1975 and 1984, 83 pregnancies were complicated by cholestasis. Meconium staining occurred in 45%, spontaneous preterm labour in 44%, and intrapartum fetal distress in 22%. Of 86 infants two were stillborn and one died soon after birth. Perinatal mortality fell from 107 in a previous series from this hospital (1965-1974) to 35/1000 in this series. Cardiotocography, estimations of oestriol, liver function tests and ultrasonic assessment of amniotic fluid volume failed to predict fetal compromise, whereas amniocentesis revealed meconium in 8 of 26 pregnancies. Early intervention was indicated in 49 pregnancies, 12 because of fetal compromise. This study suggests that intensive fetal surveillance, including amniocentesis for meconium, and induction of labour at term or with a mature lecithin/sphyngomyelin ratio, may reduce the stillbirth rate in this 'high-risk' condition.
Publication
Journal: Journal of Endocrinology
July/1/2000
Publication
Journal: Nucleic Acids Research
July/9/1987
Abstract
Deficiency of steroid sulphatase (STS) is associated with ichthyosis, with failure of the placental production of oestriol in late pregnancy and with difficulties in childbirth. The STS gene has been localised by deletion mapping to the distal tip of the snort arm of the X chromosome, and is of interest in that it appears to escape X-inactivation. We have constructed an X-specific DNA library and screened it for single copy DNA sequences which lie at the distal end of Xp. The sequence GMGX9 was found to map in the interval Xp22.3-pter and to detect a frequent HindIII polymorphism. We have used GMGX9 in linkage studies in families with classical X-linked ichthyosis and this has not only shown tight linkage with STS deficiency but has also revealed that the sequence is deleted in affected males in eight of nine families. GMGX9 is present in all of 26 normal male individuals so far examined. Our findings suggest that a high proportion of the mutations at the STS locus leading to enzyme deficiency are deletions, presumably generated by unequal cross-over events in female meiosis or by illegitimate X-Y interchange in male meiosis.
Publication
Journal: Xenobiotica
April/30/2008
Abstract
The authors recently reported the increased oral clearance of labetalol in pregnant women. To elucidate the mechanism of the elevated oral clearance, it was hypothesized that female hormones, at the high concentrations attainable during pregnancy, enhance hepatic metabolism of labetalol. Labetalol glucuronidation, which is the major elimination pathway of labetalol, was characterized by screening six recombinant human UGTs (UGT1A1, 1A4, 1A6, 1A9, 2B4, and 2B7) for their capacity to catalyse labetalol glucuronidation. The effect of female hormones (progesterone, oestradiol, oestriol, or oestrone) on the promoter activities of relevant UDP glucuronosyltransferases (UGT) was investigated using a luciferase reporter assay in HepG2 cells. The involvement of oestrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and pregnane X receptor (PXR) was examined by co-transfecting ERalpha- or PXR-constructs. UGT1A1 and UGT2B7 were identified as the major UGT enzymes producing labetalol glucuronides (trace amount of glucuronide conjugate was formed by UGT1A9). The activities of the UGT1A1 promoter containing PXR response elements were enhanced by progesterone, but not by oestrogens, indicating PXR-mediated induction of UGT1A1 promoter activity by progesterone. Results from semi-quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays are consistent with the above findings. This effect of progesterone on UGT1A1 promoter activities was concentration dependent. Promoter activities of UGT2B7 were not affected by either oestrogens or progesterone. The results suggest a potential role for progesterone in regulating labetalol elimination by modulating the expression of UGT1A1, leading to enhanced drug metabolism during pregnancy.
Publication
Journal: International Journal of Epidemiology
October/8/2003
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Epidemiological studies show a substantially reduced risk of breast cancer in adult daughters of preeclamptic pregnancies, and modest risk reductions have been demonstrated for mothers also. Alterations in pregnancy hormone concentrations, particularly lower in utero exposure to oestrogen, are hypothesized to mediate this association.
METHODS
Pregnancy hormone concentrations were measured in maternal sera collected at hospital admission for labour and delivery from 86 preeclamptic and 86 uncomplicated, singleton pregnancies matched on length of gestation, maternal age, parity, and type of delivery.
RESULTS
Case and control pregnancies were similar in several maternal and pregnancy factors. Serum unconjugated oestradiol, oestrone, and oestriol concentrations were not lower in preeclamptic pregnancies in a matched analysis with adjustment for race and whether blood was collected before or after labour commenced. Serum unconjugated androstenedione (506.3 versus 316.0 ng/dl; P = 0.0007) and testosterone concentrations (214.5 versus 141.9 ng/dl; P = 0.004), however, were significantly higher in preeclamptic compared with control pregnancies, whereas dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulphate did not differ.
CONCLUSIONS
These data do not support the hypothesis that cancer risk in mothers and offspring of preeclamptic pregnancies is explained by exposure to lower maternal blood oestrogen concentrations, but raise the possibility that androgens play a role.
Publication
Journal: Biochemical Journal
November/19/1981
Abstract
To assess the subcellular distribution of oestrogen-binding components in their native state, plasma membrane and other cell fractions were prepared from hepatocytes in the absence of [(3)H]oestradiol-17beta. Cells from livers of ovariectomized rats were disrupted, with submaximal homogenization in buffered isotonic sucrose with CaCl(2) and proteinase inhibitor, and fractionated by using isotonic media. Fractions were characterized by determinations of enzyme activities, biochemical constituents and ligand binding. Specific binding of 2nm-[(3)H]oestradiol-17beta to intact cells and their fractions was detemined after equilibration for 1.5h at 4 degrees C. More than 92% of the radioactivity from representative preparations was verified as authentic oestradiol by thin-layer chromatography. Activities of plasma-membrane marker enzymes as well as binding sites for oestrogen and for wheat germ agglutinin were present principally in particulate fractions, rather than in 105000g-supernatant fractions. However, by using alternative homogenization procedures (i.e. hypotonic media), known to fragment and strip structural components, oestradiol-binding sites and activities of plasma-membrane marker enzymes were distributed predominantly into cytosol. By using the more conservative procedures, plasma membranes of low (rho=1.13-1.16) and high (rho=1.16-1.18) density were purified from crude nuclear fractions. A second low-density subfraction of plasma membrane was prepared from microsome-rich fractions. Activities of plasma-membrane marker enzymes were enriched to about 28 and four times that of the homogenate in plasma membranes of low and high density respectively. Binding sites for wheat germ agglutinin and oestradiol were concentrated in low-density plasma membranes to 46-63 times that of the homogenate. Specific binding of oestrogen in low-density plasma membranes purified from crude nuclei was saturable, with an apparent association constant of 3.5nm. At saturation, such oestradiol receptors corresponded to 526fmol/mg of membrane protein. A Hill plot showed a moderate degree of positive co-operativity in the interaction of hormone with plasma membranes. Specific binding of [(3)H]oestradiol-17beta was reduced by a 200-fold molar excess of unlabelled oestradiol-17beta, oestriol or diethylstilbestrol, but not by oestradiol-17alpha, cortisol, testosterone or progesterone. Binding was also blocked by prior exposure of membranes to trypsin or to 60 degrees C, but remained essentially undiminished by extraction of membranes with either hypotonic or high-salt buffers. Extraction with 0.1% (v/v) Triton X-100 partially solubilized the oestrogen-binding component(s) of plasma membranes. Particle-free extracts were resolved on 5-20% (w/v) sucrose density gradients with either 0.01m- or 0.4m-KCl, and the fractions were analysed by adsorption to hydroxyapatite. In low-salt gradients macromolecule-bound oestrogen sedimented at predominantly 7.4S and binding was 1560 times that of the homogenate. Under high-salt conditions oestradiol-binding activity occurred at both 3.6S and 4.9S.
Publication
Journal: Biochemical Journal
November/9/1994
Abstract
A cloned human bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) stably expressed in Chinese hamster V79 cells was used to assess the substrate specificity of the enzyme. The catalytic potential (Vmax/Km(bilirubin) of the enzyme with UDP-glucuronic acid (UDPGA) was 2-fold and 10-fold greater than that for UDP-xylose and UDP-glucose respectively. The formation of bilirubin mono- and di-conjugates was found to be dependent on time, UDP-sugar concentration and bilirubin concentration. Ex vivo studies demonstrated that the genetically engineered cell line was capable of the uptake and glucuronidation of bilirubin and the release of bilirubin glucuronide, indicating its usefulness in studying transport processes. Over 100 compounds, including drugs, xenobiotics and endogenous steroids, were tested as substrates for the enzyme to determine the chemical structures accepted as substrates. A wide diversity of xenobiotic compounds such as phenols, anthraquinones and flavones (many of which are in foodstuffs) were glucuronidated by the enzyme. The enzyme also had the capacity to glucuronidate oestriols and oestradiols stereoselectively. H.p.l.c. analysis of the regioselective glucuronidation of beta-oestradiol (E2) demonstrated that it was conjugated solely at its A-ring hydroxy group by the bilirubin UGT to form E2-3-glucuronide, this was in contrast with human liver microsomes which formed 3- and 17-glucuronides of this oestrogen. Studies utilizing microsomes from a Crigler-Najjar patient and inhibition of E2 glucuronidation with bilirubin indicated that the cloned expressed bilirubin UGT was the major human UGT isoform responsible for the formation of E2-3-glucuronide, which is the predominant E2 conjugate in human urine.
Publication
Journal: British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
May/7/1992
Abstract
OBJECTIVE
To investigate the effect of using a routine ultrasound estimate of gestational age and maternal weight adjustment on maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), unconjugated oestriol (uE3) and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) levels in antenatal screening for Down's syndrome.
METHODS
Women with a singleton pregnancy without Down's syndrome were screened using the three serum markers and an estimate of gestational age based on 'dates' (time since first day of the last menstrual period) and one based on an ultrasound scan examination was recorded together with maternal weight.
METHODS
Women attending the Homerton Hospital, Hackney, for their antenatal care between February 1989 and January 1990.
METHODS
2113 women with a singleton pregnancy without Down's syndrome.
RESULTS
The use of ultrasound to estimate gestational age (usually based on the biparietal diameter of the fetal skull) led to a significant reduction in the variance of each marker at a given week of pregnancy. The level of each marker was negatively associated with maternal weight, so that adjustment for weight also led to a reduction in variance. These data on gestational age and maternal weight, taken together with published data on pregnancies associated with Down's syndrome, indicate that the routine use of ultrasound to estimate gestational age will increase the detection rate from 58% to 67% while maintaining the false-positive rate at 5%, or reduce the false-positive rate from 5.7% to 3.1% while maintaining the detection rate at 60%. Routine maternal weight adjustment for the serum marker levels was much less useful, increasing the detection rate by about 0.5% for a given false-positive rate, or reducing the false-positive rate about 0.1% for a given detection rate.
CONCLUSIONS
An ultrasound gestational age estimate available at the time of Down's syndrome screening confers a substantial advantage to screening performance with a further small benefit resulting from maternal weight adjustment, which is worth adopting if it can be done without difficulty or extra cost.
Publication
Journal: Journal of Endocrinology
August/1/1976
Abstract
It has been suggested that oestriol protects against breast cancer, because in some experiments on uterine growth it is only weakly active, and partially inhibits the effects of oestradiol-17beta. When its effects are measured 24 h after a single injection, oestriol behaves as a typical impeded oestrogen with low potency and a flat dose-response line. This does not result from failure to stimulate certain critical stages of growth but from failure to sustain the products of growth. We found that oestriol induced all phases of uterine growth including DNA synthesis and cell division. It was as effective as oestradiol in stimulating early increases in protein synthesis and uterine weight, and half as effective in stimulating epithelial cells to replicate DNA and divide. However, epithelial cell numbers did not increase after a single injection of oestriol because cell death rate increased at the same time as mitotic rate, apparently as a result of the more rapid loss of oestriol from the uterus. Repeated injections of oestriol prevented premature cell death and produced as much uterine hypertrophy and hyperplasia as oestradiol-17beta. These results support the thesis that the oestrogenic potency of a substance is largely determined by the duration of its occupation of receptors. Thus in situations of continuous production, (e.g. pregnancy) oestriol would be as active as oestradiol and unlikely to exert any significant 'buffering' or protective action. The findings are also discussed in relation to a new model for the regulation of cell proliferation.
Publication
Journal: European Journal of Cancer Prevention
June/20/2003
Abstract
The objective of this study is to examine perinatal correlates of oestradiol (E2), oestriol (E3), progesterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) among pregnant women in the USA and China. Three hundred and four Caucasian women in Boston and 335 Chinese women in Shanghai were studied. Levels of E2, E3, progesterone and SHBG were measured in maternal blood at weeks 16 and 27 of gestation, and correlated with maternal, gestational and perinatal characteristics. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy is inversely associated with E2 and SHBG, whereas E3 is inversely associated with height and progesterone is inversely associated with weight and BMI. A previous live birth is associated with lower E2 and SHBG in the index pregnancy. Total gestation duration is inversely associated with E2, E3 and progesterone, whereas weight gain during pregnancy is inversely associated with progesterone and SHBG. In the US, pregnancies with female fetuses are characterized by significantly reduced progesterone. Pregnancy hormones are associated with several maternal, gestational and neonatal characteristics.
Publication
Journal: The Lancet
June/24/1999
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Urogenital symptoms are common among postmenopausal women. Such symptoms may be alleviated by low-potency oestrogen formulations administered orally or vaginally. Although low-potency oestrogen formulations are assumed to have few, if any, adverse effects on the endometrium, risk of endometrial neoplasia has not been quantified.
METHODS
In a nationwide population-based case-control study in Sweden of endometrial cancer among postmenopausal women, we obtained detailed information on hormone replacement from 789 cases of endometrial cancer and 3368 population controls. In a histopathological review, 80 cases were reclassified as having endometrial atypical hyperplasia. Odds ratios and 95% CI were calculated with unconditional logistic regression.
RESULTS
After multivariate adjustment, oral use of oestriol 1-2 mg daily increased the relative risk of endometrial cancer and endometrial atypical hyperplasia: the odds ratios for at least 5 years of use compared with never use were 3.0 (95% CI 2.0-4.4) and 8.3 (4.0-17.4), respectively. The association was stronger for well-differentiated cancers and those with limited invasion. The excess relative risk was lost rapidly after cessation of treatment. Only weak associations were observed between vaginal application of low-potency oestrogen formulations and relative risk of endometrial neoplasia.
CONCLUSIONS
Oral, but not vaginal, treatment with low-potency oestrogen formulations increases the relative risk of endometrial neoplasia. Thus close surveillance of patients is needed, and addition of a progestagen should be considered.
Publication
Journal: Journal of Medical Screening
April/2/1998
Abstract
BACKGROUND
In 1968 the first antenatal diagnosis of Down's syndrome was made and screening on the basis of selecting women of advanced maternal age for amniocentesis was gradually introduced into medical practice. In 1983 it was shown that low maternal serum alpha fetoprotein (AFP) was associated with Down's syndrome. Later, raised maternal serum human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), and low unconjugated oestriol (uE3) were found to be markers of Down's syndrome. In 1988 the three biochemical markers were used together with maternal age as a method of screening, and this has been widely adopted. PRINCIPLES OF ANTENATAL SCREENING FOR DOWN'S SYNDROME: Methods of screening need to be fully evaluated before being introduced into routine clinical practice. This included choosing markers for which there is sufficient scientific evidence of efficacy, quantifying performance in terms of detection and false positive rates, and establishing methods of monitoring performance. Screening needs to be provided as an integrated service, coordinating and managing the separate aspects of the screening process. SERUM MARKERS AT 15-22 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY: A large number of serum markers have been found to be associated with Down's syndrome between 15 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. The principal markers are AFP, hCG or its individual subunits (free alpha- and free beta-hCG), uE3, and inhibin A. Screening performance varies according to the choice of markers used and whether ultrasound is used to estimate gestational age (table 1). When an ultrasound scan is used to estimate gestational age the detection rate for a 5% false positive rate is estimated to be 59% using the double test (AFP and hCG), 69% using the triple test (AFP, hCG, uE3), and 76% using the quadruple test (AFP, hCG, uE3, inhibin A), all in combination with maternal age. Other factors that can usefully be taken into account in screening are maternal weight, the presence of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, multiple pregnancy, ethnic origin, previous Down's syndrome pregnancy, and whether the test is the first one in a pregnancy or a repeat. Factors such as parity and smoking are associated with one or more of the serum markers, but the effect is too small to justify adjusting for these factors in interpreting a screening test.
UNASSIGNED
Urinary beta-core hCG has been investigated in a number of studies and shown to be raised in pregnancies with Down's syndrome. This area is currently the subject of active research and the use of urine in future screening programmes may be a practical possibility. Other urinary markers, such as total oestriol and free beta-hCG may also be of value. Fetal cells can be identified in the maternal circulation and techniques such as fluorescent in situ hybridisation can be used to identify aneuploidies, including Down's syndrome and trisomy 18. This approach may, in the future, be of value in screening or diagnosis. Currently, the techniques available do not have the performance, simplicity, or economy needed to replace existing methods.
UNASSIGNED
Demonstration projects are valuable in determining the feasibility of screening and in refining the practical application of screening. They are of less value in determining the performance of different screening methods. Several demonstration projects have been conducted using the triple and double tests. In general, the uptake of screening was about 80%. The screen positive rates were about 5-6%. About 80% of women with positive screening results had an invasive diagnostic test, and of those found to have a pregnancy with Down's syndrome, about 90% chose to have a termination of pregnancy. ULTRASOUND MARKERS AT 15-22 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY: There are a number of ultrasound markers of Down's syndrome at 15-22 weeks, including nuchal fold thickness, cardiac abnormalities, duodenal atresia, femur length, humerus length, pyelectasis, and hyperechogenic bowel. (ABSTRA
Publication
Journal: Journal of Neuroendocrinology
February/10/2012
Abstract
Most women experience time-limited and specific mood changes in the days after birth known as the maternity blues (Blues). The maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis undergoes gradual changes during pregnancy because of an increasing production of placental corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). The abrupt withdrawal of placental CRH at birth results in a re-equilibration of the maternal HPA axis in the days post-delivery. These changes may be involved in the aetiology of the Blues given the central role of the HPA axis in the aetiology of mood disorders in general, and in perinatal depression in particular. We aimed to test the novel hypothesis that the experience of the Blues may be related to increased secretion of hypothalamic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) secretagogue peptides, after the reduction in negative-feedback inhibition on the maternal hypothalamus caused by withdrawal of placental CRH. We therefore examined hormonal changes in the HPA axis in the days after delivery in relation to daily mood changes: our specific prediction was that mood changes would parallel ACTH levels, reflecting increased hypothalamic peptide secretion. Blood concentrations of CRH, ACTH, cortisol, progesterone and oestriol were measured in 70 healthy women during the third trimester of pregnancy, and on days 1-6 post-delivery. Blues scores were evaluated during the postpartum days. Oestriol, progesterone and CRH levels fell rapidly from pregnancy up to day 6, whereas cortisol levels fell modestly. ACTH concentrations declined from pregnancy to day 3 post-delivery and thereafter increased up to day 6. Blues scores increased, peaking on day 5, and were positively correlated with ACTH; and negatively correlated with oestriol levels during the postpartum days, and with the reduction in CRH concentrations from pregnancy. These findings give indirect support to the hypothesis that the 'reactivation' of hypothalamic ACTH secretagogue peptides may be involved in the aetiology of the Blues.
Publication
Journal: Reproductive BioMedicine Online
January/27/2014
Abstract
Although much research focuses on hormones during gestation, little is known about the actual hormone concentrations within the fetal surroundings. The aim of this study was to combine all available oestrogen, androgen, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), inhibin, gonadotrophin and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) concentrations during gestation and post partum into graphical representations reporting weighted mean hormone values. A systematic search was performed in Pubmed and Embase from inception to March 2012. Studies were evaluated by two reviewers; manuscripts were included if the actual hormone concentrations were reported together with the gestational age at time of sampling. A total of 97 articles were found eligible for this review. Maternal serum oestrogens, inhibin A, SHBG, androstenedione and testosterone rise during gestation, which is followed by a rapid decline in the post-partum period. For AMH and DHEAS, an inverse relationship is found, while gonadotrophin concentrations are negligible during gestation. For girls cord blood oestriol and post-partum FSH concentrations are higher, while for boys cord blood FSH and neonatal testosterone, inhibin B, LH and AMH concentrations are higher. In conclusion, longitudinally measured endocrine data during gestation and in the peri- and post-natal period are lacking, especially for twin pregnancies.
Publication
Journal: Maturitas
November/21/1990
Abstract
There are large inter- and intra-individual variations in the serum concentrations of natural and synthetic sex steroids irrespective of the route of administration. Oral ingestion of steroids has a stronger effect on hepatic metabolism than parenteral administration, as the local concentration in liver sinusoids are 4-5 times higher during the first liver passage. Oestradiol and oestrone are interconvertible, dependent on the local concentrations in liver and target organs, and oestrone sulphate serves as a large reservoir. The oestrone/oestradiol ratio has no physiological significance, as oestrone is only a weak oestrogen. Oestrone is both a precursor and a metabolite of oestradiol. Oestriol is extensively conjugated after oral administration. Therefore, the oestriol serum levels are similar after oral intake of 10 mg and after vaginal application of 0.5 mg oestriol resulting in similar systemic effectiveness. Conjugated oestrogens can easily enter the hepatocytes but are hormonally active only after hydrolyzation into the parent steroids. Ethinylestradiol which exerts strong effects on hepatic metabolism and inhibits metabolizing enzymes, should not be used for hormone replacement therapy. Among the progestogens, the progesterone derivatives have less effects on liver metabolism than the norethisterone derivatives (13-methyl-gonanes and 13-ethyl-gonanes). The highly potent 13-ethyl-gonanes are effective at very low doses, because of a slow inactivation and elimination rate due to the ethinyl group.
Authors
Publication
Journal: British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
August/11/1988
Abstract
Second trimester maternal serum unconjugated oestriol levels were measured in the stored serum samples from 22 pregnancies associated with Down's syndrome and 110 unaffected control pregnancies, matched for maternal age, gestational age, duration of storage of the serum sample, smoking habits and maternal weight. The serum unconjugated oestriol level of each affected pregnancy was expressed as a multiple of the median (MoM) of its five matched controls. The unconjugated oestriol levels were significantly lower in the affected pregnancies than in the unaffected pregnancies; the median MoM was 0.79 (P less than 0.05). This association between low serum unconjugated oestriol and fetal Down's syndrome early in pregnancy raises the possibility that serum unconjugated oestriol measurement may be added to maternal age and alpha-fetoprotein measurement in the antenatal screening for Down's syndrome.
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