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Environ Qual Saf Suppl. 1976;(5):159-70.

Endogenous anabolic agents in farm animals.


This presentation is limited to the three groups of steroid sex hormones which alone or in combination have been shown to be anabolic when used in farm animals. It seems essential for realistic evaluation of public health aspects of use of these hormones that the discussions include naturally occurring levels of the hormones. The following topics will be dealt with for each group of hormones: 1. Types and sources; 2. Production rates; 3. Plasma levels; 4. Tissue concentrations; 5. Metabolism and excretion. Gestagens. Progesterone and 20-dihydroprogesterones are mainly produced in ovaries and placenta. Production rates are estimated to 10 and 14 mg/24 hrs in pregnant goats and sheep, respectively. Plasma levels during the luteal phase are of the order of 2--10 ng/ml, during pregnancy somewhat higher. Muscular tissue from calves contain 0.25 mg/g. In dairy cows progesterone is excreted with the milk which contains up to 30 ng/ml; butterfat up to 300 mg/g. In ruminants progesterone is metabolized mainly to androgens excreted with faeces. In pigs large parts are metabolized to pregnanediols excreted with urine. Androgens. Testosterone is mainly secreted by testes. Boar testes also produce large amounts of dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulphate. Production rates have been estimated to be 10 mg and 40--50 mg/24 hrs. in boars and bulls respectively. Plasma levels in bulls and rams are generally 2--10 ng/ml, in boars 2--25 ng/ml. Adipose tissue levels up to 22 ng/g are reported for bulls. In ruminants epitestosterone seems to be a major metabolite excreted mainly with faeces. In boars, urinary 11-deoxy-17-ketosteroids are major metabolites of testicular dehydroepiandrosterone. Castration shows elimination to be rapid. Estrogens. 17beta-Estradiol and estrone are produced in ovaries and placenta and, in large amounts, in boar and stallion testes. Production rates in late pregnancy are estimated to 10 mg oestrone/24 hrs. in goats, 2 mg estrone and up to 28 mg 17beta-estradiol/24 hrs. in sheep. In cows much higher values are found. Boars and stallions produce huge amounts daily. Plasma levels in non-pregnant animals are at the pg/ml level. In late pregnancy levels of 2--4 thousand pg/ml are encountered in sows and cows, in sheep and goats lower levels. Calf muscular tissue contains up to 410 and 610 pg/g of estrone and 17beta-estradiol respectively. In muscle from pregnant heifers corresponding values were 120 and 860 pg/g in the 4th month and 2100 and 370 pg/g in the 9th month of pregnancy. Ruminants in large measure metabolize 17 beta-estradiol and estrone to 17alpha-estradiol which possesses low estrogenic activity. In pigs estrone dominates in blood and urine. Major routes of elimination arre with faeces in ruminants, with urine in pigs and horses. Elimination rates are high. Results obtained during the last few years clearly show that all three groups of steroid sex hormones occur in considerable concentrations in plasma and tissue...

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