Table_1_Urinary Steroid Profile in Elite Female Athletes in Relation to Serum Androgens and in Comparison With Untrained Controls.DOCX
In female athletes, the interpretation of doping tests is complex due to hormonal variations during the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptive use, both influencing the urinary steroid profile. Exercise is suggested to affect circulating steroid hormone levels, and in women, the urinary steroid profile differs between in competition testing and out of competition testing. No previous study has investigated the relationship between amount of exercise and the urinary steroid profile in female elite athletes.Purpose
To compare the urinary steroid profile between female Olympic athletes and age- and BMI-matched untrained controls, and to study the urinary steroid profile in relation to serum hormones and amount of exercise.Methods
In this cross-sectional study conducted at the Women’s Health Research Unit, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, 94 female elite athletes and 86 untrained controls were included. Serum estrogens and testosterone and the urinary steroid profile were analyzed by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, respectively. Exercise hours/week were evaluated by questionnaire.Results
Although serum steroid hormones were comparable between groups, the athletes demonstrated approximately 30% lower urinary steroid metabolites of testosterone, epitestosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone, 5α-androstan-3α, 17β-diol, and 5β-androstan-3α, 17β-diol compared to the controls. The urinary steroid metabolites correlated positively with serum steroid hormones. In the athletes, urinary steroid metabolites: androsterone (rs = −0.28, p = 0.007), epitestosterone (rs = −0.22, p = 0.034), 5αAdiol (rs = −0.31, p = 0.002) and testosterone (rs = −0.24, p = 0.026), were negatively correlated with amount of training (hours per week).Conclusion
The urinary concentrations of steroid metabolites were lower in elite athletes than in sedentary controls, although serum steroids were comparable between groups. Moreover, exercise time was negatively associated with the urinary concentrations. Our findings suggest alternative excretion routes of androgens in the athletes related to training.