Endogenous reproductive hormones and C-reactive protein across the menstrual cycle: The BioCycle Study

Audrey J. Gaskins, Machelle Wilchesky, Sunni L. Mumford, Brian W. Whitcomb, Richard W. Browne, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Neil J. Perkins, Enrique F. Schisterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the most commonly used markers of acute phase reaction in clinical settings and predictors of cardiovascular risk in healthy women; however, data on its physiologic regulation in premenopausal women are sparse. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between endogenous reproductive hormones and CRP in the BioCycle Study (2005-2007). Women aged 18-44 years from western New York were followed prospectively for up to 2 menstrual cycles (n = 259). Serum levels of CRP, estradiol, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone were measured up to 8 times per cycle, timed by fertility monitors. CRP levels varied significantly across the cycle (P <0.001). More women were classified as being at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CRP, >3 mg/L) during menses compared with other phases (12.3% vs. 7.4%; P <0.001). A 10-fold increase in estradiol was associated with a 24.3% decrease in CRP (95% confidence interval: 19.3, 29.0). A 10-fold increase in luteal progesterone was associated with a 19.4% increase in CRP (95% confidence interval: 8.4, 31.5). These results support the hypothesis that endogenous estradiol might have antiinflammatory effects and highlight the need for standardization of CRP measurement to menstrual cycle phase in reproductive-aged women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-431
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • estrogens
  • inflammation
  • menstrual cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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