Effect of administration of oral contraceptives in vivo on collagen synthesis in tendon and muscle connective tissue in young women

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Apr;106(4):1435-43. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90933.2008. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


Women are at greater risk than men for certain kinds of diseases and injuries, which may at least partly be caused by sex hormonal differences. We aimed to test the influence of estradiol in vivo on collagen synthesis in tendon, bone, and muscle. Two groups of young, healthy women similar in age, body composition, and exercise-training status were included. The two groups were either habitual users of oral contraceptives exposed to a high concentration of synthetic estradiol and progestogens (OC, n = 11), or non-OC-users tested in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle characterized by low concentrations of estradiol and progesterone (control, n = 12). Subjects performed 1 h of one-legged kicking exercise. The next day collagen fractional synthesis rates (FSR) in tendon and muscle connective tissue were measured after a flooding dose of [(13)C]proline followed by biopsies from the patellar tendon and vastus lateralis in both legs. Simultaneously, microdialysis catheters were inserted in vastus lateralis and in front of the patellar tendon for measurement of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its binding proteins. Serum NH(2)-terminal propeptide of type I collagen (PINP) and urine COOH-terminal telopeptides of type-I collagen (CTX-I) were measured as markers for bone synthesis and breakdown, respectively. Tendon FSR and PINP were lower in OC compared with control. An increase in muscle collagen FSR postexercise was only observed in control (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the results indicate a lower bioavailability of IGF-I in OC. In conclusion, synthetic female sex hormones administered as OC had an inhibiting effect on collagen synthesis in tendon, bone, and muscle connective tissue, which may be related to a lower bioavailability of IGF-I.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Collagen / biosynthesis*
  • Connective Tissue / drug effects
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Microdialysis
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Proline / blood
  • Tendons / drug effects
  • Tendons / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Collagen
  • Proline