5α-Estrane-3β,17β-diol and 5β-estrane-3α,17β-diol: definitive screening biomarkers to sign nandrolone abuse in cattle?

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Sep;126(3-5):65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.05.005. Epub 2011 May 19.


17β-Nandrolone (17β-NT) is one of the most frequently misused anabolic steroids in meat producing animals. As a result of its extensive metabolism combined with the possibility of interferences with other endogenous compounds, detection of its illegal use often turns out to be a difficult issue. In recent years, proving the illegal administration of 17β-NT became even more challenging since the presence of endogenous presence of 17β-NT or some of its metabolite in different species was demonstrated. In bovines, 17α-NT can occur naturally in the urine of pregnant cows and recent findings reported that both forms can be detected in injured animals. Because efficient control must both take into account metabolic patterns and associated kinetics of elimination, the purpose of the present study was to investigate further some estranediols (5α-estrane-3β,17β-diol (abb), 5β-estrane-3α,17β-diol (bab), 5α-estrane-3β,17α-diol (aba), 5α-estrane-3α,17β-diol (aab) and 5β-estrane-3α,17α-diol (baa)) as particular metabolites of 17β-NT on a large number of injured (n=65) or pregnant (n=40) bovines. Whereas the metabolites abb, bab, aba and baa have previously been detected in urine up to several days after 17β-NT administration, the present study showed that some of the isomers abb (5α-estrane-3β,17β-diol) and bab (5β-estrane-3α,17β-diol) could not be detected in injured or pregnant animals, even at very low levels. This result may open a new way for the screening of anabolic steroid administration considering these 2 estranediols as biomarkers to indicate nandrolone abuse in cattle.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / blood
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cattle Diseases / metabolism
  • Estranes / analysis*
  • Estranes / blood
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Isomerism
  • Nandrolone* / metabolism
  • Nandrolone* / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Pregnancy / metabolism
  • Pregnancy, Animal* / blood
  • Pregnancy, Animal* / metabolism
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / blood
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / veterinary


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Estranes
  • estrane-3,17-diol
  • Nandrolone