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.
- androgen profile