Assessing estradiol in biobehavioral studies using saliva and blood spots: Simple radioimmunoassay protocols, reliability, and comparative validity

Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff, Douglas A. Granger, Eve B. Schwartz, Mary J. Curran, Alan Booth, William H. Overman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

101 Scopus citations


We developed simple, reliable, and highly sensitive assay modifications of commercially available radioimmunoassay kits to measure estradiol in saliva and blood spot specimens. The saliva assay has average intra- and interassay coefficients of variation (CV) of 6.45 and 9.01%, with average analytical and serial dilution recoveries 100.65 and 89.25%. The blood spot assay has average intra- and interassay CVs of 7.57 and 8.22%, with analytical and serial dilution recoveries of 80.50 and 108.50%. The analytical sensitivity ranges of the saliva (0.25-7.50 pg/ml) and blood spot (2.00-375 pg/ml) assays are sufficient to determine levels in the majority of pre- and postpubertal males and females. Blood spot assay results are correlated with serum estradiol levels for adult males, r (17) = 0.73, and females, r (18) = 0.96. In contrast, the serum-saliva correlation is only modest for adult females, r (14) = 0.60, and not significant for adult males. Substitution of blood spot assay results for serum values underestimates the known serum estradiol-behavior correlation by only 3.45%, whereas substitution of saliva assay results for serum values underestimates the association by 37.55%. The findings have important implications for the use and potential misuse of noninvasive measures of estradiol in studies of health and human development. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this