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Contraception. 2009 Aug;80(2):187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.02.015. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

Effects of oral contraception with ethinylestradiol and drospirenone on oxidative stress in women 18-35 years old.

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PROBIOX SA, Campus Universitaire du Sart-Tilman, Avenue de l'hôpital, Tour GIGA, Bât. B34, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.



Oral contraceptives (OCs) with estrogens and progestins may affect oxidative stress (OS) status.


A group of 32 women using oral contraceptives (OCU) containing 0.03 mg ethinylestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone have been compared to a matched control group of 30 noncontraception users (NCU). Blood levels of antioxidants, trace elements and markers of lipid peroxidation were assessed by biochemical methods. A microarray analysis of whole blood mRNA levels of 200 genes involved in OS-dependant pathway was also performed.


Levels of zinc, vitamin E and antibodies to oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) were not significantly different between the two groups. On the other hand, significant increases in the mean levels of lipid peroxides (+176%, p<.001), oxidized LDLs (+145%, p<.002), copper (+103%, p<.001), Cu/Zn ratio (+100%, p<.001) and a significant decrease in the mean level of beta-carotene (-41%, p<.01) were observed in the OCU compared to NCU. There was a highly significant positive correlation between the lipid peroxide levels and the copper-to-zinc ratio. From the 200 genes tested by microarray, one coding for HSP70 was significantly up-regulated (log(2) fold change=+ 0.45, p<.02) and one coding for inducible nitric oxide synthase significantly down-regulated (log(2) fold change=-0.24, p<.05) in the OCU compared to the NCU.


The recently introduced combination of ethinylestradiol and drospirenone induced the heightening of lipid peroxidation correlated with high levels of copper, a situation that could be associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

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