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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Differential effects of oral versus transdermal estrogen replacement therapy on C-reactive protein in postmenopausal women.

OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether the route of estrogen replacement therapy (ET) is the major determinant of C-reactive protein (CRP) in postmenopausal women. BACKGROUND: Recent studies demonstrated that oral ET causes a sustained increase in CRP, implicating a proinflammatory effect. Because CRP is synthesized in the liver, we hypothesized that estrogen-induced CRP elevation is related to first-pass hepatic metabolism. METHODS: In 21 postmenopausal women, we conducted a randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled study to compare the effects of transdermal versus oral ET on CRP and inflammatory cytokines. We measured CRP, interleukin (IL)-1-beta, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha before and after eight weeks of transdermal estradiol (E(2)) (100 microg/day), oral conjugated estrogen (CEE) (0.625 mg/day), or placebo. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hepatic-derived anabolic peptide, was also measured. RESULTS: Transdermal E(2) had no effect on CRP or IGF-1 levels. In contrast, eight weeks of oral conjugated estrogens caused a more than twofold increase in CRP and a significant reduction in IGF-1 (p < 0.01) in the same women. The magnitude of increase in CRP was inversely correlated to the decrease in IGF-1 (r = -0.49, p = 0.008). Neither transdermal E(2) nor oral CEE had any effects on the plasma concentrations of cytokines that promote CRP synthesis. CONCLUSIONS: In postmenopausal women, oral but not transdermal ET increased CRP by a first-pass hepatic effect. An increase in CRP levels is accompanied by a reduction in IGF-1, an anti-inflammatory growth factor. Because CRP is a powerful predictor of an adverse prognosis in otherwise healthy postmenopausal women, the route of administration may be an important consideration in minimizing the adverse effects of ET on cardiovascular outcomes.[1]


  1. Differential effects of oral versus transdermal estrogen replacement therapy on C-reactive protein in postmenopausal women. Vongpatanasin, W., Tuncel, M., Wang, Z., Arbique, D., Mehrad, B., Jialal, I. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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