Oral, more than transdermal, estrogen therapy improves lipids and lipoprotein(a) in postmenopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled study

Majoie Hemelaar, Marius J van der Mooren, Velja Mijatovic, Anneke A Bouman, Charles P T Schijf, Maurice V A M Kroeks, Henk R Franke, Peter Kenemans
Menopause: the Journal of the North American Menopause Society 2003, 10 (6): 550-8

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of low-dose oral and transdermal estrogen therapy on the lipid profile and lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] levels in healthy, postmenopausal women and to study the additional influence of gestodene administration.

DESIGN: In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 152 healthy, hysterectomized, postmenopausal women received daily either placebo (n = 49), 50 microg transdermal 17beta-estradiol (tE2, n = 33), 1 mg oral 17beta-estradiol (oE2, n = 37), or 1 mg oE2 combined with 25 microg gestodene (oE2 + G, n = 33) for 13 cycles of 28 days, followed by 4 cycles of placebo in each group. Fasting serum concentrations of total, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and Lp(a) were measured at baseline and in cycles 4, 13, and 17.

RESULTS: In cycle 13, a significant mean percentage decrease from baseline was found in all treatment groups compared with placebo in total cholesterol (tE2, -4.7%; oE2, -6.9%; oE2 + G, -10.5%) and LDL cholesterol (tE2, -5.8%; oE2, -12.6%; oE2 + G, -13.6%). For both oral groups, the reductions were already significant in cycle 4. None of the treatment groups showed a significant change in HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. In cycle 13, Lp(a) was decreased compared with placebo in the oE2 group (-6.6%) and the oE2 + G group (-8.2%). After washout, all observed changes had returned to baseline level, except for the decreases in total and LDL cholesterol in the oE2 + G group.

CONCLUSIONS: Oral E2 and E2 + G, and to a lesser extent transdermal E2, decreased total and LDL cholesterol. Lp(a) was lowered only by the oral treatments.

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