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Choosing an oestrogen replacement therapy in young adult women with Turner syndrome*


*For commentary see page 157
Correspondence: Dr Z. Hochberg, Division of Paediatric Endocrinology, Rambam Medical Center, POB 9602, Haifa 31096, Israel. Fax: 972 4854 2157; E-mail:


OBJECTIVE Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is prescribed to most patients with Turner syndrome (TS) although its use in adult TS patients has not been scientifically evaluated. The present study was performed to compare the short-term effects in adult women with Turner syndrome of low-dose oral conjugated oestrogen (0·625 mg, CE) with relatively high dose ethinyl oestradiol (30 µg, EE2); both combined with an oral progestin.

DESIGN and PATIENTS After 4 months off HRT, 17 young, otherwise healthy women with TS were enrolled in a random, unblinded, crossover study of the two oestrogenic preparations, each given for 6 months.

MEASUREMENTS We compared parameters of oestrogenic activity that would cover immediate changes in hormone levels, biochemistry, bone turnover, uterine and cardiac variables, which constitute risk factors for later development of diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and aortic dissection.

RESULTS Serum FSH returned to normal follicular phase levels only on the EE2 regimen. The hypotrophic endometria normalized with either of the two oestrogen regimens with no excessive hypertrophy. Hyperinsulinaemia was suppressed to normal by both EE2 and CE. PTH and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels increased on HRT (EE2 > CE), and phosphorus decreased. Alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin and urinary deoxypyridinoline cross-links (DPD) were high off therapy; the former two suppressed to high–normal levels on the EE2 regimen, but not on CE, and DPD did not normalize with either HRT. Lipid profiles in these young TS patients were normal. Liver enzymes were mildly elevated off therapy and suppressed to normal levels on both regimens, but more so with EE2.

CONCLUSIONS The risk factors embodied in hyperinsulinaemia and enhanced bone turnover which, ultimately, have consequences for TS morbidity, are minimized by HRT. In the short term, neither regimen is effective for bone turnover in adult women with Turner syndrome.

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