Sex steroid hormones, upper body obesity, and insulin resistance

Nicola Abate, Steven M. Haffner, Abhimanyu Garg, Ronald M. Peshock, Scott M. Grundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Low plasma levels of SHBG and free testosterone have been associated with increased insulin resistance and risk for type 2 diabetes in males. As truncal obesity, a condition accompanied by increased insulin resistance, is also associated with low SHBG and testosterone levels, the independent association of low free testosterone and SHBG with excessive insulin resistance remains to be determined. In this study we evaluated whether in normogonadic men, plasma levels of SHBG and free testosterone are primarily related to insulin resistance or to generalized and regional adiposity. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and iv glucose tolerance tests were performed in 24 healthy volunteer and 33 patients with mild type 2 diabetes. The 2 groups were chosen to have similar body mass index and were found to have similar body composition and fat distribution, assessed by underwater weighing, skinfold thickness, and magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen. In the 2 groups combined, plasma levels of SHBG correlated inversely with fat accumulation in both sc and intraabdominal areas. Plasma levels of free testosterone correlated inversely with both truncal and peripheral skinfold thickness only in the nondiabetic men. No associations between plasma levels of sex steroid hormones and insulin resistance, hepatic glucose output, or insulin secretion were found to be independent of adiposity. Furthermore, although patients with diabetes were more insulin resistant than those without diabetes, the 2 groups had similar plasma concentrations of free testosterone (55 ± 14 and 67 ± 27 pmol/liter, respectively), SHBG (19 ± 13 and 19 ± 13 nmol/liter), estradiol (83 ± 5 and 81 ± 21 pmol/liter), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (3.6 ± 2.2 and 2.8 ± 1.7 nmol/liter). We conclude that in normogonadal nondiabetic males, the variability in plasma bioavailable testosterone concentrations is predictive of the variability in fat deposition in the sc adipose tissue compartments of both truncal and peripheral areas. Low plasma levels of bioavailable testosterone do not independently predict excessive insulin resistance, β-cell dysfunction, or hepatic glucose output in normogonadal men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4522-4527
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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