Abstract Title:

Pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol in 14 women during three months of treatment with a tri-step combination oral contraceptive: serum protein binding of levonorgestrel and influence of treatment on free and total testosterone levels in the serum.

Abstract Source:

Contraception. 1994 Dec;50(6):563-79. PMID: 7705098

Abstract Author(s):

W Kuhnz, T Staks, G Jütting

Article Affiliation:

Research Laboratories, Schering Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin, FRG.


The pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel (LNG) and ethinylestradiol (EE2) were determined in 14 healthy women (age 18 to 27 years) during a treatment period of three months with a tri-step combination oral contraceptive (Triquilar). Prior to this treatment period, the same women received a single administration of a coated tablet containing 0.125 mg LNG together with 0.03 mg EE2. There was a washout phase of one week between both treatments. Following single dose administration, a mean terminal half-life of 22 h was observed for LNG. The total clearance was 1.0 ml x min-1 x kg-1 and the volume of distribution was 128 l. During a treatment cycle, LNG levels in the serum accumulated by a factor of about four as compared to single dose administration. Steady-state drug levels were reached during the second half of each cycle. As compared to single dose administration, the following changes were observed for LNG at the end of treatment cycles one and three: reduced total (0.5 ml x min-1 x kg-1) and free clearance (50 ml x min-1 x kg-1) and a reduced volume of distribution (52 l). A concomitant increase in the SHBG concentrations by a factor of two as compared to pretreatment values was observed during treatment and appeared to be mainly responsible for the changes in the pharmacokinetics of LNG. Marked changes were also seen for the serum protein binding of LNG. After single dose administration, the free fraction of LNG was 1.4% and the fractions bound to SHBG and albumin were 55.0% and 43.6%, respectively. At the end of cycle one, the free fraction was only 1.0% and the fractions bound to SHBG and albumin were 69.4% and 30.0%, respectively. There was no difference in corresponding pharmacokinetic parameters and in the serum protein binding of LNG at the end of cycles one and three. On the last day of treatment cycles one and three, the AUC(0-4h) values of EE2 were 331.2 and 369.6 pg x ml-1 x h, respectively, which corresponds to an about 11-24% increase as compared to single dose administration, where an AUC(0-4h) value of 298.3 pg x ml-1 x h was found. Total and free testosterone concentrations decreased during treatment cycles one and three by about 41% and 55%, respectively, compared with the corresponding values measured prior to treatment.

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