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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Jan;81(1):37-43.

Comparison of the effects of estrogen alone and estrogen plus androgen on biochemical markers of bone formation and resorption in postmenopausal women.

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University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030, USA.


The present study was undertaken to determine whether the addition of an androgen to estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women would alter the skeletal response as determined by measurements of markers of bone formation and resorption. Postmenopausal women were treated for 9 weeks with either a combination of 1.25 mg esterified estrogen and 2.5 mg methyltestosterone (E+A) or 1.25 mg conjugated equine estrogen (CEE). Both groups showed a similar decrease in urinary excretion of the bone resorption markers, deoxypyridinoline, pyridinoline, and hydroxyproline. Patients treated with CEE showed decreases in the serum markers of bone formation, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, and C-terminal procollagen peptide. In contrast, subjects treated with E+A showed increases in these markers of bone formation. CEE increased, and E+A decreased serum levels of sex hormone-binding globulin as well as triglycerides and high density lipoprotein levels. Only CEE significantly reduced low density lipoproteins. Both regimens were effective in reducing postmenopausal somatic symptoms, but only E+A had a significant effect on psychological symptoms. We conclude that short term administration of androgen with estrogen may reverse the inhibitory effects of estrogen on bone formation. Long term studies are needed to determine the relative benefits and risks of the combination of estrogen and androgen and whether this results in greater increases in bone mass and strength.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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