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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Dec;299(6):E990-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00374.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

Prepubertal urinary estrogen excretion and its relationship with pubertal timing.

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  • 1Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Dept. of Nutrition and Health, Heinstueck 11, 44225, Dortmund, Germany.


Whether prepubertal estrogen production impacts on the timing of puberty is not clear. We aimed to investigate prepubertal 24-h estrogen excretion levels and their association with early and late pubertal markers. Daily urinary excretion rates of estrogens of 132 healthy children, who provided 24-h urine samples 1 and 2 yr before the start of the pubertal growth spurt [age at takeoff (ATO)], were quantified by stable isotope dilution/GC-MS. E-sum3 (estrone + estradiol + estriol) was used as a marker for potentially bioactive estrogen metabolites and E-sum5 (E-sum3 + 16-epiestriol + 16-ketoestradiol) for total estrogen production. Pubertal outcomes were ATO, age at peak height velocity (APHV), duration of pubertal growth acceleration (APHV-ATO), age at Tanner stage 2 for pubic hair (PH2), genital (G2, boys) and breast (B2, girls) development, and age at menarche. Prepubertal urinary estrogen excretions (E-sum3 and E-sum5) were not associated with ATO, APHV, and age at PH2 but with duration of pubertal growth acceleration (P < 0.01) in both sexes. Girls with higher E-sum3 reached B2 0.9 yr (P = 0.04) and menarche 0.3 yr earlier (P = 0.04) than girls with lower E-sum3. E-sum3 was not associated with age at G2 in boys (P = 0.6). For most pubertal variables, the associations with E-sum3 were stronger than with E-sum5. In conclusion, prepubertal estrogens may not be critical for the onset of the pubertal growth spurt but are correlated with its duration in both boys and girls. Prepubertal estrogen levels may already predict the timing of girls' menstruation and breast development but do not appear to affect sexual maturation in boys.

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