Serum complexed and free prostate specific antigen levels are lower in female elite athletes in comparison to control women.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


F1000Research, Volume 6, p.1131 (2017)


BACKGROUND: We hypothesize that prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein that it is under regulation by androgens, may be differentially expressed in female elite athletes in comparison to control women.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 106 female athletes and 114 sedentary age-matched controls.  Serum from these women was analyzed for complexed prostate specific antigen (cPSA) and free prostate specific antigen (fPSA), by fifth generation assays with limits of detection of around 6 and 140 fg/mL, respectively.  A panel of estrogens, androgens and progesterone in the same serum was also quantified by tandem mass spectrometry.  Results: Both components of serum PSA (cPSA and fPSA) were lower in the elite athletes vs the control group (P=0.033 and 0.013, respectively).  Furthermore, estrone (p=0.003) and estradiol (p=0.004) were significantly lower, and dehydroepiandrosterone  (p=0.095) and 5-androstene-3β, 17β-diol (p=0.084) tended to be higher in the athletes vs controls. Oral contraceptive use was similar between groups and significantly associated with increased cPSA and fPSA in athletes (p= 0.046 and 0.009, respectively).  PSA fractions were not significantly associated with progesterone changes. The Spearman correlation between cPSA and fPSA in both athletes and controls was 0.75 (P < 0.0001) and 0.64 (P < 0.0001), respectively.  Conclusions: Elite athletes have lower complexed and free PSA, higher levels of androgen precursors and lower levels of estrogen in their serum than sedentary control women.

ABBREVIATIONS: cPSA, complexed PSA; fPSA, free PSA; PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome; E1, estrone; E2, estradiol; DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, Testo, testosterone; DHT, dihydrotestosterone; PROG, progesterone; Delta 4, androstenedione; Delta 5, androst-5-ene-3β, 17β-diol; BMD, body mineral density; LLOQ, lower limit of quantification; ULOQ, upper limit of quantification; LOD, limit of detection; ACT, α 1-antichymotrypsin.