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Changes in the serum levels of gonadotrophins and steroid hormones with increasing age were studied in 449 women aged 40 and over to investigate the relationships between these hormones even very late in life.
The levels of oestradiol (E2) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) fell after age 50 and remained low thereafter. However, while serum oestrone (E1), testosterone (T), delta-4-androstenedione (A) and prolactin (PRL) concentrations also decreased initially after age 50 they subsequently rose again progressively and this increase was in fact significant in the case of El. Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) rose after age 50, but whereas FSH remained elevated, LH decreased late in life. Cortisol (F) increased significantly after age 70.
There was a significant correlation between androgens and E1 as well as between E2 and LH, even after age 60.
Owing to the great heterogeneity of the population studied, it is not yet possible to speculate as to the physiopathological significance of these observations. It would seem, however, that the negative feedback effect of oestrogens on LH secretion remains operational very late in life.
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Accepted: April 27, 1988
Received in revised form: January 29, 1988
Received: November 6, 1987
© 1988 Published by Elsevier Inc.