|Preferred IUPAC name
Oestetrol; E4; 15α-Hydroxyestriol; Estra-1,3,5(10)-triene-3,15α,16α,17β-tetrol
3D model (JSmol)
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||304.386 g/mol|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Estetrol (E4), or oestetrol, is a weak estrogen steroid hormone, which is found in detectable levels only during pregnancy in humans. It is produced exclusively by the fetal liver. Estetrol is closely related to estriol (E3), which is also a weak estrogen that is found in high quantities only during pregnancy. Along with estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and E3, estetrol (E4) is a major estrogen in the body, although only during pregnancy.
In addition to its role as a natural hormone, estetrol is under clinical development for use as a medication, for instance in hormonal contraception (in combination with drospirenone) and as menopausal hormone therapy; for information on estetrol as a medication, see the estetrol (medication) article.
Estetrol is an estrogen and has estrogenic effects in various tissues. Estetrol interacts with the nuclear estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) in a manner identical to that of the other estrogens and distinct from that observed with selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). So far the physiological function of estetrol is unknown. The possible use of estetrol as a marker for fetal well-being has been studied quite extensively. However, due to the large intra- and inter-individual variation of maternal estetrol plasma levels during pregnancy, this appeared not to be feasible.
Estetrol is an agonist of the estrogen receptors (ERs), and hence is an estrogen. It has moderate affinity for ERα and ERβ, with Ki values of 4.9 nM and 19 nM, respectively. As such, estetrol has 4- to 5-fold preference for the ERα over the ERβ. The estrogen has low affinity for the ERs relative to estradiol, and both estetrol and the related estrogen estriol require substantially higher concentrations than estradiol to produce similar effects to estradiol. The affinity of estetrol for the ERs is about 0.3% (rat) to 6.25% (human) of that of estradiol, and its in vivo potency in animals is about 2 to 3% of that of estradiol. Estetrol shows high selectivity for the ERs.
|Estrogen||ER RBA (%)||Uterine weight (%)||Uterotrophy||LH levels (%)||SHBG RBA (%)|
|Estradiol||100||506 ± 20||+++||12–19||100|
|Estrone||11 ± 8||490 ± 22||+++||?||20|
|Estriol||10 ± 4||468 ± 30||+++||8–18||3|
|Estetrol||0.5 ± 0.2||?||Inactive||?||1|
|17α-Estradiol||4.2 ± 0.8||?||?||?||?|
|2-Hydroxyestradiol||24 ± 7||285 ± 8||+b||31–61||28|
|2-Methoxyestradiol||0.05 ± 0.04||101||Inactive||?||130|
|4-Hydroxyestradiol||45 ± 12||?||?||?||?|
|4-Methoxyestradiol||1.3 ± 0.2||260||++||?||9|
|4-Fluoroestradiola||180 ± 43||?||+++||?||?|
|2-Hydroxyestrone||1.9 ± 0.8||130 ± 9||Inactive||110–142||8|
|2-Methoxyestrone||0.01 ± 0.00||103 ± 7||Inactive||95–100||120|
|4-Hydroxyestrone||11 ± 4||351||++||21–50||35|
|4-Methoxyestrone||0.13 ± 0.04||338||++||65–92||12|
|16α-Hydroxyestrone||2.8 ± 1.0||552 ± 42||+++||7–24||<0.5|
|2-Hydroxyestriol||0.9 ± 0.3||302||+b||?||?|
|2-Methoxyestriol||0.01 ± 0.00||?||Inactive||?||4|
|Notes: Values are mean ± SD or range. ER RBA = Relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors of rat uterine cytosol. Uterine weight = Percentage change in uterine wet weight of ovariectomized rats after 72 hours with continuous administration of 1 μg/hour via subcutaneously implanted osmotic pumps. LH levels = Luteinizing hormone levels relative to baseline of ovariectomized rats after 24 to 72 hours of continuous administration via subcutaneous implant. Footnotes: a = Synthetic (i.e., not endogenous). b = Atypical uterotrophic effect which plateaus within 48 hours (estradiol's uterotrophy continues linearly up to 72 hours). Sources: See template.|
Estetrol is synthesized during pregnancy only in the fetal liver from estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3) by the two enzymes 15α- and 16α-hydroxylase. Alternatively, estetrol is synthesized with 15α-hydroxylation of 16α-hydroxy-DHEA sulfate as an intermediate step. It appears in maternal urine at around week 9 of pregnancy. After birth the neonatal liver rapidly loses its capacity to synthesize estetrol because these two enzymes are no longer expressed.
Estetrol reaches the maternal circulation through the placenta and was already detected at nine weeks of pregnancy in maternal urine. During the second trimester of pregnancy high levels were found in maternal plasma, with steadily rising concentrations of unconjugated estetrol to about 1 ng/mL (>3 nM) towards the end of pregnancy.
Structures of major endogenous estrogens
Estetrol, also known as 15α-hydroxyestriol or as estra-1,3,5(10)-triene-3,15α,16α,17β-tetrol, is a naturally occurring estrane steroid and derivative of estrin (estratriene). It has four hydroxyl groups, which explains the abbreviation E4.
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