Androgenic and Corticosteroid Content of Pine Pollen

Sex Hormones and Corticosteroids in Pollen of Pinus nigra

Authors: Melita Saden-Krehula, Melita Tajic, and Dragutin Kolbah

Affiliations: Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Zagreb, and Division of Endocrinology, University Hospital Rebro, Zagreb, Yugoslavia

Pine pollen has been the subject of numerous studies due to its rich content of biologically active compounds, including steroid hormones. This study, conducted by Saden-Krehula, Tajic, and Kolbah (1979), continues earlier investigations into the presence and quantification of steroid hormones and corticosteroids in the pollen of Pinus nigra.


The primary objective of this research was to isolate and quantify the steroid hormones and corticosteroids in pine pollen using radioimmunoassay and fluorimetric methods.


Extraction and Isolation

  • Steroid Hormones: The study focused on isolating and quantifying testosterone, epitestosterone, androstenedione, and progesterone. The extraction involved multiple chromatographic runs on silica gel, followed by radioimmunoassay for quantification.
  • Corticosteroids: Various semiquantitative and quantitative methods were employed to detect cortisol, cortisone, 11-deoxycortisol, corticosterone, and 11-deoxycorticosterone. Techniques included UV spectroscopy, tetrazolium salt reactions, Porter-Silber reactions, and fluorescence measurements.

Analytical Techniques

  • Radioimmunoassay (RIA): Used for precise quantification of testosterone, epitestosterone, androstenedione, and progesterone.
  • Fluorimetry: Used to detect and quantify fluorescent derivatives of these hormones after specific chemical reactions.


Steroid Hormones

The amounts of steroid hormones detected in pine pollen by radioimmunoassay and fluorimetric methods are summarized in Table 1. Testosterone, epitestosterone, androstenedione, and progesterone were all identified and quantified.


The findings confirm that pine pollen contains significant quantities of steroid hormones and corticosteroids, which were identified and quantified using sophisticated biochemical techniques. The variability in hormone content between samples underscores the importance of consistent extraction methods.

Research Significance

The presence of steroid hormones and corticosteroids in pine pollen supports the hypothesis that these compounds are not exclusive to the animal kingdom. This research has potential implications for the use of pine pollen as a natural source of these bioactive compounds in both nutritional and therapeutic contexts. Furthermore, the methodologies employed in this study provide a robust framework for future investigations into plant-derived steroids.


The study conclusively demonstrates the presence of significant amounts of testosterone, epitestosterone, androstenedione, and progesterone in pine pollen. Additionally, various corticosteroids, including cortisol and cortisone, were identified. These findings pave the way for further research into the potential health benefits and applications of pine pollen-derived steroids.


Saden-Krehula, M., Tajic, M., & Kolbah, D. (1979). Sex hormones and corticosteroids in pollen of Pinus nigra. Phytochemistry, 18(2), 345-346. doi:10.1016/0031-9422(79)80098-9