In postmenopausal women, high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone may lead to elevated LDL cholesterol through interaction with its receptors in hepatocytes and reductions of LDL receptor levels, thus diminishing the clearance of LDL cholesterol through endocytosis.
Researchers evaluated 400 healthy postmenopausal women aged 42 to 60 years who underwent hormone replacement therapy at the Women’s Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, China, between Jan. 1, 2010 and July 1, 2013. The researchers measured participants’ levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Liver and ovary tissue samples from additional postmenopausal women with hepatic tumor during hepatectomy surgery as well as ovarian tissue samples from postmenopausal women undergoing adnexectomy were also collected.
The researchers found that higher blood levels of FSH ( 78.3 IU/L at baseline; n = 200) were associated with higher serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations compared with baseline FSH levels of 40 IU/L to 78.3 IU/L (n = 200; P < .01).
The mean baseline FSH concentration was 82.67 IU/L, and it was reduced by 29.6% after a daily regimen of 1 mg estradiol valerate tablets for 12 months. Total cholesterol was reduced by 3.7% and LDL cholesterol was reduced by 4.4% from baseline concentrations (P < .05 for both). There was an increase in estradiol levels by 89.18 pmol/L (P < .05) and no significant change in BMI.
While the 12-month estradiol regimen reduced serum FSH levels and increased serum estradiol levels in both groups, only women with baseline FSH levels of 78.3 IU/L or more had significant reductions in LDL and total cholesterol. Additionally, only women for whom hormone therapy yielded a significant reduction in FSH levels ( 30% decrease) showed significantly lower serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol. Specifically, FSH reductions of 30% or more were linked to a mean drop of 0.14 mmol/L in LDL cholesterol (P < .05) and a mean drop of 0.19 mmol/L in total cholesterol (P < .05) from baseline.
“This study provides novel insight into the function of FSH in cholesterol metabolism of postmenopausal women,” the researchers. “Our data suggest that postmenopausal high FSH levels may have an adverse effect on LDL-[cholesterol] metabolism.” – by Jennifer Byrne
The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.