Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Biochemistry


Ethelwyn B. Wilcox


Twelve university women students served as experimental subjects in a study of the serum lipids and urinary estrogens of healthy nonpregnant menstruating young women, who were living under their usual conditions.

The subjects maintained constant weight on their ordinary diets during the entire study period. Antecubital blood and 24-hour urine specimens were collected on certain days which represented different stages of the menstrual cycle. Quantitative analyses were made on serum total cholesterol, lipid phosphorus (phospholipids), triglycerides and total lipids. Gas-liquid chromatographic analysis of the fatty acid composition of each serum lipid component was also made. Urinary estrone, 17β- estradiol and estriol were separated and quantitatively determined by chromatographic and spectrophotometric techniques.

Basic data on serum lipid levels , composition of the fatty acids of cholesterol esters, phospholipids and triglycerides and urinary estrogens were obtained on these young women . Findings included the following:

1. Mean values of serum total cholesterol, phospholipids, triglycerides and total lipids were 162, 165, 105 and 544 mg per cent, respectively. The interindividual variation was greater than intraindividual variation. The values of triglycerides were more variable than those of cholesterol and phospholipids.

2. The major fatty acids in lipid fractions were palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic. The highest amounts of fatty acid in cholesterol esters, phospholipids and triglycerides were linoleic, 51; palmitic, 28; and oleic, 33 per cent, respectively. Inter- and intra-individual variations were high.

3. The urinary estrogen values showed that 17 B-estradiol (E 2 ), was usually present in the least and estriol (E 3 ), in the greatest amounts. The mean values of E 1 (estrone), E 2 , E 3 and Et (total) were as follows: 8. 7, 4. 8, 16. 4, and 29. 9 μg per 24-hour urine.

4. The menstrual cycle did affect the urinary excretion of estrogens which showed the lowest values during the first week and then rose to a peak which occurred on or about the time of ovulation or mid-cycle. Then it fell and rose again between the third and fourth week of the cycle. The second peak was usually lower than the first one.

5. Cyclical changes of the concentrations of serum total cholesterol, phospholipids and total lipids have been observed. These changes appeared to be influenced by the estrogenic hormonal activity of the menstrual cycle. The increased excretion of urinary estrogens with a decreased (negative correlation) concentration of serum lipids was recognized.

6. Linoleic acid in cholesterol esters, as well as palmitic acid in phospholipids were found in cyclic changes. The patterns were quite similar to those of serum lipids.



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