Investigation of urinary steroid metabolites in calf urine after oral and intramuscular administration of DHEA

I. Becue, C. Poucke, J.C.W. Rijk, T.F.H. Bovee, M.W.F. Nielen, C. van Peteghem

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10 Citations (Scopus)


DHEA (3ß-hydroxy-androst-5-en-17-one) is a natural steroid prohormone. Despite a lack of information on the effect, DHEA and other prohormones are frequently used as a food supplement by body-builders. DHEA is suspected for growth promoting abuse in cattle as well. Considering the latter, urine samples from a previous exposure study in which calves were exposed to 1 g DHEA per day for 7 days, were used. The calves were divided in three groups: one orally treated, one intramuscularly injected, and a control group. The effect of this treatment on the urinary profile of several precursors and metabolites of DHEA was investigated. Urine samples were collected several days before and during the 7 days of administration and were submitted to a clean-up procedure consisting of a separation of the different conjugates (free, glucuronidated, and sulfated forms) of each compound on a SAX column (Varian). An LC-MS/MS method was developed for the detection and quantification of several metabolites of the pathway of DHEA including 17a- and 17ß-testosterone, 4-androstenedione, 5-androstenediol, pregnenolone, and hydroxypregnenolone. Elevated levels of DHEA, 5-androstenediol, and 17a-testosterone were observed in the free and sulfated fraction of the urine of the treated calves, thus indicating that the administered DHEA is metabolized mainly by the ¿5-pathway with 5-androstenediol as the intermediate. Sulfoconjugates of DHEA and its metabolites were found to constitute the largest proportion of the urinary metabolites. The free form was also present, but in a lesser extent than the sulfated form, while glucuronides were negligible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-808
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • mass-spectrometry
  • androgen profile
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • gas
  • consequences
  • prohormones
  • supplements
  • bioassay
  • men


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