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[Effect of ethinyl estradiol-dienogest combination on serum androgen concentrations]

Author(s): Oettel M, Carol W, Graser T, Klinger G, Mellinger U, Moore C, Schindler AE, Winkler UH

Affiliation(s): Jenapharm GmbH & Co. KG, Jena.

Publication date & source: 1997, Zentralbl Gynakol., 119(12):597-606.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Antiandrogens or progestins with an antiandrogenic component usually have only a weak antigonadotropic activity. It is thus possible that the antiandrogenic effect on the cellular level is cancelled or at least reduced by an increased ovarian androgen production. The aim of the four submitted clinical studies of the progestin and antiandrogen dienogest alone (0.5-2 mg/day) or of a combined regimen of ethinylestradiol (0.03 mg) plus dienogest (2 mg) (EE/DNG) was to examine the influence on the serum androgen and SHBG concentrations as well as on the serum FSH, LH, progesterone and 17 beta-estradiol concentrations in young women. Like the progesterone derivatives, dienogest has a relatively low antigonadotropic activity. Inhibition of ovulation is mainly produced by peripheral mechanisms such as the reduction of preovulatory 17 beta-estradiol secretion. Dienogest alone has no significant effects on the serum SHBG and androgen concentrations. Unlike this, the combination of EE plus DNG markedly increases SHBG concentrations (to 2.1-3.7 fold the basal levels). The decrease in serum androgens with total testosterone (by 17 and 40%), free testosterone (by 48 and 54%) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (by 51%) corresponds to the values shown in the literature for other oral contraceptives with modern progestins. EE/DNG does not affect the serum concentrations of 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), although the marker of the peripheral transformation from T to DHT, androstanediol glucuronide, is distinctly reduced (by 38%). In a double-blind comparison no differences are found between EE/DNG and a regimen combining 0.02 mg of ethinylestradiol and 0.150 mg of desogestrel. Solely the SHBG concentrations, with EE/DNG, as expected, are significantly higher. In a sequential regimen, dienogest, chlormadinone acetate and desogestrel (progestins without binding to SHBG) enhance the inhibitory effect of ethinylestradiol sulfonate on free testosterone, whereas norethindrone acetate and levonorgestrel (progestins with a strong binding to SHBG) reduce this effect of the estrogen significantly. These results exclude the possibility that the very distinct antiandrogenic effect of dienogest on a cellular level is neutralised or reduced by an increased systemic supply of androgen.

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