Influence of synthetic isoflavones on selected urinary steroid biomarkers: Relevance to doping control

Influence of synthetic isoflavones on selected urinary steroid biomarkers : Relevance to doping control / Michele Iannone, Francesca Alberti, Maria Cristina Braganò, Xavier de la Torre, Francesco Molaioni, Francesco Botrè. - (Steroids 174 (2021) October; 108900)

  • PMID: 34391799
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.steroids.2021.108900


In this work we have investigated the influence of the intake of two synthetic isoflavones, methoxyisoflavone and ipriflavone, on the urinary concentration of endogenous steroids, and on their relative ratios, of doping relevance. Specifically, the concentrations of testosterone (T), epitestosterone (E), androsterone (A), etiocholanolone (Etio), 5α-androstan-3α,17α-diol (5αAdiol), 5β-androstan-3α,17α-diol (5βAdiol), and the ratios T/E, A/T, A/Etio, 5αAdiol/5βAdiol, 5αAdiol/E, were considered, in the framework of the Steroidal Module of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP). The above set of parameters were complemented by the urinary levels of luteinizing hormone (total LH) and the ratio between T and LH (T/total LH), to assess the possible effects on the biosynthesis of the mentioned steroids. Five healthy Caucasian male volunteers were selected for the study. Urine samples were collected before and during the administration of (i) methoxyisoflavone (Methoxyisoflavone, MyProtein) and (ii) ipriflavone (Osteofix ®, Chiesi Farmaceutici). For the analysis of the urinary steroid profile, after enzymatic hydrolysis with β-glucuronidase from Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) and liquid-liquid extraction with tert-buthylmethyl ether, all samples were analyzed by gas chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS), while for the determination of total LH all urine samples were directly analyzed by a chemiluminescent immunometric assay technique (Siemens Immulite 2000 LH). Our results show that the administration of either methoxyisoflavone or ipriflavone causes an alteration of the urinary concentrations and concentration ratios of the investigated steroids, in the range 55-80% from the baseline values. Furthermore, an oversecretion of LH after the daily intake of methoxyisoflavone or ipriflavone was also recorded in all volunteers, corresponding to an increase in the biosynthesis and excretion of T and some of its metabolites. These changes trigger a disregulation in the pattern of urinary excretion of the steroids included in the Steroidal Module of the ABP, which makes more difficult the interpretation of the longitudinal steroid profile based on the definition of individual normality ranges for each athlete. Our data are also consistent with previous evidence regarding the in vitro effects of natural and synthetic isoflavones, suggesting that their monitoring in doping control routine analysis would be very beneficial for the result management activities.

Original document


Research / Study
12 August 2021
Alberti, Francesca
Botrè, Francesco
Braganò, Maria Cristina
de la Torre, Xavier
Iannone, Michele
Other organisations
Université de Lausanne (UNIL) - University of Lausanne
Roma, Italia: Laboratorio Antidoping FMSI
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
3α-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one (androsterone)
T/E ratio (testosterone / epitestosterone)
Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
11 November 2021
Date of last modification
17 November 2021
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