Fasted plasma asprosin concentrations are associated with menstrual cycle phase, oral contraceptive use and training status in healthy women

A. N. Leonard, A. L. Shill, A. E. Thackray, D. J. Stensel, Nicolette C. Bishop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Asprosin, an orexigenic hormone that stimulates hepatic glucose release, is elevated in insulin resistance and associated with obesity. Plasma asprosin concentrations may also be related to female sex hormone levels; higher levels are reported in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) but this may be related to peripheral insulin resistance also associated with PCOS. Clarification of female-specific factors influence on the plasma asprosin response is crucial for studies investigating asprosin. Therefore, this study determined the association of menstrual phase, oral contraceptive (OC) use (as a pharmacological influence on sex hormone levels) and training status (as a physiological influence on sex hormone levels) on plasma asprosin levels in pre-menopausal women. Methods: Fasting plasma asprosin, 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone, were assessed in 32 healthy untrained and trained women with regular menstrual cycles (non-OC; n = 8 untrained, n = 6 trained) or using OC (n = 10 untrained, n = 8 trained) during early follicular, late follicular and mid-luteal menstrual phases (or the time-period equivalent for OC users). Results: Asprosin was lower in OC (0.75 ± 0.38 ng mL−1) than non-OC users (1.00 ± 0.37 ng mL−1; p = 0.022). Across a cycle, asprosin was highest in the early follicular equivalent time-point in OC users (0.87 ± 0.37 ng mL−1) but highest in the mid-luteal phase in non-OC users (1.09 ± 0.40 ng mL−1). Asprosin concentrations varied more across a cycle in untrained than trained women, with higher concentrations in the early follicular phase compared to the late follicular and mid-luteal (training status-by-menstrual phase interaction p = 0.028). Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of considering OC use, menstrual cycle phase and to a lesser extent training status when investigating circulating asprosin concentrations in females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-801
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Appetite hormone
  • Birth control
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Pre-menopausal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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