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J Dairy Sci. 2004 Aug;87(8):2331-6.

Technical note: Measurement of total estrone content in foods. Application to dairy products.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Estrone is a powerful growth-inducing hormone that is present in milk, mainly in the form of fatty acid esters, at concentrations that promote growth in experimental animals. We present here a method useful for the measurement of this natural hormone in foods and applied it to several common dairy products. Samples were frozen, finely powdered, and lyophilized then extracted with trichloromethane/methanol; the dry extract was saponified with potassium hydroxide. The free estrone evolved was extracted with ethyl acetate and was used for the estimation of total estrone content through radioimmunoassay. Application of the method to dairy products showed high relative levels of total estrone (essentially acyl-estrone) in milk, in the range of 1 microM, which were halved in skimmed milk. Free estrone levels were much lower, in the nanomolar range. A large proportion of estrone esters was present in all other dairy products, fairly correlated with their fat content. The amount of estrone carried by milk is well within the range, where its intake may exert a physiological response in the sucklings for which it is provided. These growth-inducing and energy expenditure-lowering effects may affect humans ingesting significant amounts of dairy products.

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