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J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):217-29.

Studies on the role of intestinal bacteria in metabolism of synthetic and natural steroid hormones.

Abstract

Administration of antimicrobial agents to subjects taking oral contraceptives has been reported to lead to contraceptive failure and subsequent pregnancy. In women taking oral contraceptives antimicrobial agents could have an effect on both endogenous hormone levels and on the metabolism of the exogenously administered steroids. To investigate these possibilities, antimicrobial agents were administered for short periods to normal women taking various steroid drugs: Megestrol acetate (MA), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), norethisterone (NET), a combination of NET and ethinylestradiol (EE) or a combination of lynestrenol and EE. During ampicillin administration the 24-h morning plasma concentrations of MA, MPA and NET were increased compared to the control values. In the MA and MPA experiments the afternoon values were determined and also found to be increased. In the subjects taking oral contraceptives plasma EE concentration showed a tendency to decrease during ampicillin administration on the third, fourth or fifth morning of ampicillin administration, but was never lower than the pretreatment values. In other experiments plasma estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2), urinary total E1, E2 and estriol (E3) and fecal unconjugated and conjugated E1, E2 or E3 were determined by RIA before, during and after administration of oxytetracycline (2 X 500 mg/day for 5 days) to 5 young male subjects. Furthermore urinary and fecal estrogens were determined in 1 male subject after administration of erythromycin for 6 days and in 2 normally menstruating women after tetracycline and trimethoprim administration, respectively. During treatment with antimicrobial drugs an increase in the excretion of fecal conjugated and, with the exception of the oxytetracycline experiments, also of unconjugated estrogens paralleled a decrease in urinary estrogen excretion, especially for E2 and E3. In both urine and feces the E1/E2 and E1 + E2/E3 ratios increased due to diminished reductive metabolism of estrogens in the gut. No significant effects on plasma unconjugated estrogen concentrations were observed. The results suggest that the intestinal bacterial flora plays a significant role in estrogen metabolism. However, further studies are necessary, because our results do not explain why administration of antibiotics may cause contraceptive failure.

PIP:

Administration of antimicrobial agents to subjects taking oral contraceptives (OCs) has been reported to lead to contraceptive failure and subsequent pregnancy. In women taking OCs, antimicrobial agents could have an effect on both endogenous hormone levels and on the metabolism of the exogenously administered steroids. To investigate these possibilities, antimicrobial agents were administered for short periods to normal women taking various steroid drugs: megestrol acetate (MA), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), norethisterone (NET), a combination of NET and ethinyl estradiol (EE), or a combination of lynestrenol and EE. During ampicillin administration, the 24 hour morning plasma concentrations of MA, MPA, and NET were increased compared to control values. In the MA and MPA experiments, the afternoon values were determined and also found to be increased. In the subjects taking OCs, plasma EE concentration showed a tendency to decrease during ampicillin administration on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th mornings of ampicillin administration, but was never lower than the pretreatment values. In other experiments, plasma estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2), urinary total E1, E2, and estriol (E3) and fecal unconjugated and conjugated E1, E2, or E3 were determined by RIA before, during, and after administration of oxytetracycline (2x500 mcg/day for 5 days) to 5 young male subjects. Furthermore, urinary and fecal estrogens were determined in 1 male subject after erythromycin administration for 6 days and in 2 normally menstruating women after tetracycline and trimethoprim administration respectively. During treatment with antimicrobial drugs, an increase in the excretion of fecal conjugated and, with the exception of oxytetracycline experiments, also of unconjugated estrogens, paralleled a decrease in urinary estrogen excretion, especially for E2 and E3. In both urine and feces, the E1/E2 and E1+E2/E3 ratios increased due to diminished reductive metabolism of estrogens in the gut. No significant effects on plasma unconjugated estrogen concentrations were observed. The results suggest that the intestinal bacterial flora plays a significant role in estrogen metabolism. However, further studies are necessary since these results do not explain why antibiotic administration causes contraceptive failure.

PMID:
6231418
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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