Disturbance in sex-steroid serum profiles of cattle in response to exogenous estradiol: a screening approach to detect forbidden treatments

Steroids. 2011 Mar;76(4):365-75. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2010.12.005. Epub 2010 Dec 21.


Estradiol benzoate (EB) has been one of the most widely used estrogenic agents in animal husbandry, as a way of exogenously introducing the natural hormone estradiol-17β into the animal organism. Estradiol was previously employed to induce anabolic effects or reproductive improvements in cattle. However, the employment of EB in European countries has been permanently forbidden by Directive 2008/97/EC to guarantee consumers' health. Despite this prohibition, the control of estradiol-17β and its esters continues to be a difficult task for residue-monitoring plans in European Communities because official analyses of natural thresholds for hormones in cattle have not yet been established, leading to a lack of confirmation for any exogenous administration of natural hormones. Several researchers have worked on excretion profiles of metabolites, variation in specific hormonal ratios and metabolomic fingerprints after hormonal treatments. This research focuses on the possible existence of disturbances in the serum profile of animals treated with EB in terms of steroid sex hormones (androgens, oestrogens and progestogens), by investigating the serum levels of several of these hormones. The serum samples were collected from three groups of cows: one treated with an intramuscular injection of EB, one treated with a combination of intravaginal EB and progesterone and a control (non-treated) group. The samples have been analysed by a validated high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) method, and 17 natural hormones were identified and quantified. Subsequently, data from the serum profiles were submitted for statistic and multivariate analysis, and it was possible to observe a manifest variation between animal groups. The obtained results can help in the development of a viable screening tool for monitoring purposes in cattle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Cattle / blood*
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance Abuse Detection / veterinary*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • estradiol 3-benzoate
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol