Comparative estrogenicity of endogenous, environmental and dietary estrogens in pregnant women I: Serum levels, variability and the basis for urinary biomonitoring of serum estrogenicity

Food Chem Toxicol. 2018 May;115:511-522. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2018.03.017. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


Biomonitoring of human exposure to estrogens most frequently focuses on environmental and dietary estrogens, and infrequently includes measures of exposure to potent endogenous estrogens present in serum. Pregnancy is a developmentally sensitive period during which "added" serum estrogenicity exceeding normal intra-individual daily variability may be of particular relevance. We made repeated measurements of serum concentrations of estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), estetrol (E4), daidzein (DDZ), genistein (GEN) and bisphenol A (BPA) in thirty pregnant women using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry detection (UPLC-MS/MS) and electrospray ionization (ESI). Serum E1, E2, and E3 concentrations varied significantly (coefficients of variation 9-10%) with broad ranges across the cohort: 1.61-85.1 nM, 9.09-69.7 nM, and 1.5-36.3 nM respectively. BPA (undetected, estimated from total exposure), DDZ and GEN concentrations were 1-5 orders of magnitude lower. The 24-h urinary elimination profiles of endogenous estrogens were each strongly correlated with their corresponding serum concentrations (Pearson's Correlation Coefficients of 0.83 (E1), 0.84 (E2) and 0.94 (E3)). A multivariate regression analysis produced equations for estimating serum concentrations of E1, E2, E3, E4, GEN and DDZ from urinary elimination rates and gestation period, an important step towards non-invasive biomonitoring for assessment of "added" estrogenicity during pregnancy.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; Bisphenol A; Endocrine disruptors; Estrogens; Exposure; Pharmacokinetics; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Young Adult


  • Estrogens