Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
from September 2014
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 05, 235 - 242

Research article
Serum Markers of Inflammation and Endothelial Function are Elevated by Hormonal Contraceptive Use but not by Exercise-Associated Menstrual Disorders in Physically Active Young Women
Pamela S. Hinton , R. Scott Rector, James E. Peppers, Rebecca. D. Imhoff , Laura. S. Hillman
Author Information
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA

Pamela S. Hinton
✉ 106 McKee, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.
Publish Date
Received: 30-12-2005
Accepted: 06-04-2006
Published (online): 01-06-2006
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The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of exercise-associated menstrual disorders and hormonal contraceptives (HC) on systemic inflammatory markers and endothelial function in female athletes. Thirty-nine active women (≥5 h of aerobic exercise per wk), aged 18-33 y, participated in this cross-sectional study comparing women with menstrual disorders (MD, n = 10; 0-9 cycles·y-1), eumenorrheic women (E, n = 13; 10-13 cycles·y-1), and HC users (HC, n = 16; 12 cycles·y-1). Fasting serum samples were collected during the early follicular phase (d2-5) for the menstruating women. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), total cholesterol (TC), high- and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C, LDL-C), triglycerides (TG), reproductive hormones, and cortisol were measured in serum. Estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol were not statistically different between MD and E groups; cortisol was significantly greater in the HC versus E group (p = 0.002). TC (p = 0.005), LDL-C (p = 0.03), and CRP (p = 0.05) were increased in the HC versus MD and E groups. TNF-α was significantly higher in the HC (p=0.001) compared with the E group. There were no significant group differences in the concentrations of sVCAM-1 or IL-6. TNF-α and cortisol were positively correlated (r=0.31, p = 0. 058), as were sVCAM-1 and estradiol (r = 0.41, p = 0.010). In conclusion, HC use, but not exercise- associated menstrual disorders, is associated with increased TNFα and LDL-C.

Key words: Cytokines, soluble vascular adhesion molecule, female reproductive disorders

           Key Points
  • Serum lipids and markers of inflammation were not altered by exercise-associated oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea.
  • Hormonal contraceptive users had elevated total and LDL cholesterol compared with regularly menstruating non-HC users.
  • C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-α, but not soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1, were increased in hormonal contraceptive users.
  • The long-term effect of these changes on cardiovascular disease is unknown.
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