Although an association between the metabolic syndrome and hyperandrogenism has been suggested in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, few studies have investigated this relationship in postmenopausal women. We measured estradiol, testosterone, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and calculated the free androgen index (FAI) in 212 postmenopausal women not using hormone therapy in the Women's Health Study. A modified ATP III definition of the metabolic syndrome (3 or more of the following: abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL, elevated blood pressure, and abnormal glucose metabolism) was used. Women with the metabolic syndrome had higher mean levels of estradiol, testosterone, and FAI values, and lower SHBG levels. Higher FAI and lower SHBG were associated with all components of the metabolic syndrome. After adjustment for BMI and other factors, women in the highest tertile of FAI had an OR of 12.6 (95% CI: 3.8, 41.6) for the metabolic syndrome, while those in the lowest SHBG tertile had an OR of 7.3 (95% CI: 2.7, 19.8). When stratified by BMI, the associations with high FAI and low SHBG remained significant even in women with BMI < 26.7 kg/m2. An androgenic hormone profile is associated with both the individual components of the metabolic syndrome and clustering of metabolic abnormalities in postmenopausal women.
estradiol; gonadal steroid hormones; metabolic syndrome X; sex hormone binding globulin; testosterone
Breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women is positively associated with circulating concentrations of oestrogens and androgens, but the determinants of these hormones are not well understood.
Cross-sectional analyses of breast cancer risk factors and circulating hormone concentrations in more than 6000 postmenopausal women controls in 13 prospective studies.
Concentrations of all hormones were lower in older than younger women, with the largest difference for dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), whereas sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) was higher in the older women. Androgens were lower in women with bilateral ovariectomy than in naturally postmenopausal women, with the largest difference for free testosterone. All hormones were higher in obese than lean women, with the largest difference for free oestradiol, whereas SHBG was lower in obese women. Smokers of 15+ cigarettes per day had higher levels of all hormones than non-smokers, with the largest difference for testosterone. Drinkers of 20+ g alcohol per day had higher levels of all hormones, but lower SHBG, than non-drinkers, with the largest difference for DHEAS. Hormone concentrations were not strongly related to age at menarche, parity, age at first full-term pregnancy or family history of breast cancer.
Sex hormone concentrations were strongly associated with several established or suspected risk factors for breast cancer, and may mediate the effects of these factors on breast cancer risk.
breast cancer; hormones; oestrogens; androgens; sex hormone-binding globulin
Androgenicity, as measured by low sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and elevations in testosterone and free androgen index (FAI), is associated with adverse cardiovascular (CV) outcomes, possibly due to effects on insulin resistance and glycemia.
Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) concentration, total testosterone, estradiol, SHBG, FAI, free estrogen index (FEI), and HbA1c were available in 200 nondiabetic postmenopausal women who were not using hormone therapy (HT) in the Women's Health Study. Of these, 98 were CVD cardiovascular disease (CVD) cases, while the remainders were matched controls. To achieve normality, continuous values were log transformed and geometric means were calculated. Associations between sex hormones and HbA1c were examined using general linear models (GLM), partial correlations and multiple linear regression analyses.
Lower SHBG levels and higher FAI and HbA1c values were found among women who were CVD cardiovascular disease (CVD) cases compared to controls, and all analyses were adjusted for this factor. In GLM, higher values of HbA1c were observed in the highest quartiles of FAI and the lowest quartiles of SHBG. However, the correlation between SHBG and HbA1c across quartiles was eliminated after adjusting for body mass index (BMI). In partial correlations, HbA1c values were inversely associated with SHBG (r=-0.19, p=0.008) and positively associated with FAI (r=0.19, p=0.01), even after adjusting for age, CVD case-control status and BMI. In multivariable linear models, a significant inverse association between SHBG and HbA1c persisted, as well as, a significant positive association between FAI and HbA1c.
Androgenicity, as measured by low SHBG and high FAI, is associated with glycemia, and thereby may contribute to CVD risk in post-menopausal women.
sex hormones; hemoglobin A1c; postmenopausal women
Estrogen deficiency due to natural menopause or surgical menopause has been suggested to have an adverse effect on insulin resistance. Testosterone and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) as well as estrogen are also associated with insulin resistance in women. However, to date, the associations of estradiol, testosterone and SHBG with insulin resistance according to estrogen level have not been clarified.
We examined the associations of estradiol, testosterone and SHBG with insulin resistance in pre- and in postmenopausal women and postmenopausal women who had received hormone therapy to clarify whether the associations differ depending on the estrogen status.
Patients and Methods
Twenty premenopausal women and thirty-two postmenopausal women were enrolled in this study. Fifteen postmenopausal women received oral conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) (0.625 mg) everyday for 12 months. Serum levels of estradiol, testosterone, SHBG and insulin and plasma levels of glucose were measured.
Serum estradiol levels tended to have a negative correlation with homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in premenopausal women but not in postmenopausal women. On the other hand, free testosterone levels tended to have a positive correlation with HOMA-IR in postmenopausal women but not in premenopausal women. Serum SHBG levels showed significant negative correlations with HOMA-IR in both pre- and postmenopausal women. SHBG level was significantly increased, free testosterone level was significantly decreased and HOMA-IR was significantly decreased at 12 months after CEE administration. However, there were no significant correlations of changes between estradiol, SHBG or free testosterone and HOMA-IR.
The associations of sex steroid hormones with insulin resistance are different depending on the estrogen status.
Estradiol; Testosterone; Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin; HOMA-IR
Prospective epidemiologic studies have consistently shown that levels of circulating androgens in postmenopausal women are positively associated with breast cancer risk. However, data in premenopausal women are limited.
A case-control study nested within the New York University Women's Health Study was conducted. A total of 356 cases (276 invasive and 80 in situ) and 683 individually-matched controls were included. Matching variables included age and date, phase, and day of menstrual cycle at blood donation. Testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were measured using direct immunoassays. Free testosterone was calculated.
Premenopausal serum testosterone and free testosterone concentrations were positively associated with breast cancer risk. In models adjusted for known risk factors of breast cancer, the odds ratios for increasing quintiles of testosterone were 1.0 (reference), 1.5 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.9 to 2.3), 1.2 (95% CI, 0.7 to 1.9), 1.4 (95% CI, 0.9 to 2.3) and 1.8 (95% CI, 1.1 to 2.9; Ptrend = 0.04), and for free testosterone were 1.0 (reference), 1.2 (95% CI, 0.7 to 1.8), 1.5 (95% CI, 0.9 to 2.3), 1.5 (95% CI, 0.9 to 2.3), and 1.8 (95% CI, 1.1 to 2.8, Ptrend = 0.01). A marginally significant positive association was observed with androstenedione (P = 0.07), but no association with DHEAS or SHBG. Results were consistent in analyses stratified by tumor type (invasive, in situ), estrogen receptor status, age at blood donation, and menopausal status at diagnosis. Intra-class correlation coefficients for samples collected from 0.8 to 5.3 years apart (median 2 years) in 138 cases and 268 controls were greater than 0.7 for all biomarkers except for androstenedione (0.57 in controls).
Premenopausal concentrations of testosterone and free testosterone are associated with breast cancer risk. Testosterone and free testosterone measurements are also highly reliable (that is, a single measurement is reflective of a woman's average level over time). Results from other prospective studies are consistent with our results. The impact of including testosterone or free testosterone in breast cancer risk prediction models for women between the ages of 40 and 50 years should be assessed. Improving risk prediction models for this age group could help decision making regarding both screening and chemoprevention of breast cancer.
Androgenicity, as measured by low sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and elevations in testosterone and free androgen index (FAI), is associated with adverse cardiovascular (CV) outcomes, possibly due to effects on insulin resistance and glycemia.
Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) concentration, SHBG, and sex hormones were available in 200 non-diabetic postmenopausal women who were not using hormone therapy (HT) in the Women's Health Study. Of these, 98 were cardiovascular disease (CVD) cases; the remainders were matched controls. To achieve normality, continuous values were log transformed and geometric means were calculated. Associations between sex hormones and HbA1c were examined using general linear models (GLM), partial correlations, and multiple linear regression analyses.
Lower SHBG levels and higher FAI and HbA1c values were found among the CVD cases, and all analyses were adjusted for this factor. In GLM, higher values of HbA1c were observed in the highest quartiles of FAI and the lowest quartiles of SHBG. However, the correlation between SHBG and HbA1c across quartiles was eliminated after adjusting for body mass index (BMI). In partial correlations, HbA1c values were inversely associated with SHBG (r = −0.19, P = 0.008) and positively associated with FAI (r = 0.19, P = 0.01), even after adjusting for age, CVD case–control status, and BMI. In multivariate models, a significant inverse association between SHBG and HbA1c persisted, as well as a significant positive association between FAI and HbA1c.
Androgenicity, as measured by low SHBG and high FAI, is associated with glycemia, and thereby may contribute to CVD risk in postmenopausal women.
Overweight and obese women with breast cancer have poorer survival compared with thinner women. One possible mechanism is that breast cancer survivors with higher degrees of adiposity have higher concentrations of tumor-promoting hormones. This study examined the association between adiposity and concentrations of estrogens, androgens, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in a population-based sample of postmenopausal women with breast cancer.
We studied the associations between body mass index (BMI), body fat mass and percent body fat measured by DXA scan, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip circumference ratio with concentrations of estrone, estradiol, testosterone, SHBG, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), free estradiol, and free testosterone in 505 Western Washington and New Mexico postmenopausal women with incident Stage 0-IIIa breast cancer. Blood and adiposity measurements were done between 4–12 months post-diagnosis.
Obese women (BMI ≥ 30) had 35% higher concentrations of estrone and 130% higher concentrations of estradiol, compared with lighter women (BMI < 22.0) (p trend, 0.005 and 0.002, respectively). Similar associations were observed for body fat mass, percent body fat and waist circumference. Testosterone concentrations also increased with increasing levels of adiposity (p trend, 0.0001). Concentrations of free estradiol and free testosterone were doubled to tripled in overweight and obese women compared with lighter-weight women (p trend=0.0001).
These data provide information about potential hormonal explanations for the association between adiposity and breast cancer prognosis. These sex hormones may be useful biomarkers for weight loss intervention studies in women with breast cancer.
Breast cancer; obesity; estrogen; testosterone; sex steroid hormones
There is a high prevalence of hypogonadism in men with type 2 diabetes. This will lead to an increase in assessments of hypogonadism. Statins could potentially decrease testosterone levels by reducing the availability of cholesterol for androgen synthesis. We compared testosterone levels and hypogonadal symptoms with statin use in a cross-sectional study of 355 men with type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Total testosterone, sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG), and estradiol were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Bioavailable testosterone was measured by the modified ammonium sulfate precipitation method. Free testosterone was calculated using Vermeulen's formula. Symptoms of hypogonadism were assessed using the Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male questionnaire.
Statins were associated with lower total testosterone (11.9 vs. 13.4 nmol/l, P = 0.006) and a trend toward lower SHBG (29.4 vs. 35.3 nmol/l, P = 0.034) compared with no treatment. Bioavailable testosterone, free testosterone, estradiol, and hypogonadal symptoms were not affected. Subanalysis showed that atorvastatin was associated with reduced total testosterone (11.4 vs. 13.4 nmol/l, P = 0.006) and a trend toward reduced SHBG (27.6 vs. 35.3 nmol/l, P = 0.022) compared with no treatment, and there was an apparent dose-response effect with the lowest levels of total testosterone seen in men treated with ≥20 mg atorvastatin (9.6 nmol/l, P = 0.017). Simvastatin use was not associated with significant reductions in testosterone or SHBG levels.
Assessing androgen status using total testosterone in men with type 2 diabetes treated with statins, particularly atorvastatin, may potentially lead to diagnostic error. Levels of bioavailable testosterone or free testosterone are recommended for the assessment of hypogonadism in this group if total testosterone levels are borderline.
To measure the association between alcohol intake and eleven hormones and peptides in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors and to evaluate whether this association differs by tamoxifen use.
Self-reported alcohol intake was assessed via food frequency questionnaire on average 30 months post breast cancer diagnosis in 490 postmenopausal women from three western states. Concurrently, a fasting blood sample was obtained for assay of estrone, estradiol, free estradiol, testosterone, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), leptin, C-peptide, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), and IGF-binding protein-3. Adjusted means of these hormones and peptides were calculated for categories of alcohol intake, overall and stratified by tamoxifen use.
The association between alcohol intake and serum hormone and peptide levels differed by tamoxifen use. We found statistically significant inverse associations between alcohol intake and both leptin and SHBG values, but only among tamoxifen users. In women not using tamoxifen we found a positive association between alcohol intake and DHEAS, but no association in tamoxifen users.
Tamoxifen may modify the association between alcohol intake and serum hormones and peptides. The significant associations found for DHEAS and SHBG are in a direction considered unfavorable for breast cancer prognosis. Postmenopausal breast cancer survivors may benefit from decreasing their alcohol intake.
breast cancer outcomes; alcohol intake; tamoxifen use; serum hormones; serum peptides
Estrogen activity plays a critical role in bone homeostasis. The serum levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) influence free estrogen levels and activity on target tissues. The objective of this study was to analyze the influence of common polymorphisms of the SHBG gene on serum SHBG, bone mineral density (BMD), and osteoporotic fractures.
Four biallelic polymorphisms of the SHBG gene were studied by means of Taqman assays in 753 postmenopausal women. BMD was measured by DXA and serum SHBG was measured by ELISA.
Age, body weight, and two polymorphisms of the SHBG gene (rs6257 and rs1799941 [A/G]) were significantly associated with serum SHBG in unadjusted and age- and weight-adjusted models. Alleles at the rs1799941 locus showed the strongest association with serum SHBG (p = 0.0004). The difference in SHBG levels between women with AA and GG genotypes at the rs1799941 locus was 39%. There were no significant differences in BMD across SHBG genotypes. The genotypes showed similar frequency distributions in control women and women with vertebral or hip fractures.
Some common genetic variants of the SHBG gene, and particularly an A/G polymorphism situated in the 5' region, influence serum SHBG levels. However, a significant association with BMD or osteoporotic fractures has not been demonstrated.
Testosterone is essential for the regulation of erectile physiology, but the relationship between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction (ED) has not been firmly established.
To examine the association between serum total, free and bio-available testosterone and ED in a population-based sample.
A consecutive series of 1776 men aged 20–77 participated in the routine physical examination from September 2009 to December 2009 in Guangxi, China. ED was assessed using the five-item International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) questionnaire. Total testosterone (TT), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and other biochemical profiles were measured. Free testosterone (FT) and bio-available testosterone (BT) were calculated based on Vermeulen’s formula. Data were collected with regard to smoking, alcoholic drinking, physical activity and metabolic syndrome.
The prevalence of ED (IIEF-5<22) was 47.6%. Men with ED were significantly older, and more prone to smoke cigarettes (≥20 cigarettes/day) or drink alcohol (≥3 drinks/week), and more likely to have elevated blood pressure (P = 0.036) or hyperglycemia (P<0.001) compared with those without ED. The significant increase in SHBG with age was parallel to its increase with increasing severity of ED (P<0.001). The obscure increase in TT across the ED status was detected without significance (P = 0.418), but TT was positively associated with ED after adjustment for age [odds ratio (OR) = 1.02, 95% CI (confidence internal): 1.00–1.04]. FT and BT were inversely associated with ED (OR = 0.14, 95%CI: 0.06–0.33; OR = 0.92 (95%CI: 0.89–0.96, respectively) in the univariate analysis, and this inverse association appeared to be independent of smoking status, alcoholic drinking, physical activity, hyper-triglyceridemia and hyperglycemia.
FT and BT are inversely related to worsening ED, whereas the positive association between TT and ED is most likely due to the increase in SHBG.
Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is strongly associated with prevalent atherosclerosis. We analyzed the associations of baseline serum levels of testosterone (T), estradiol (E2), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) with WHR in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort.
Baseline data was available for 3144 men and 2038 postmenopausal women, who were non-users of hormone therapy, who were 45–84 years of age, and of White, Chinese, Black or Hispanic racial/ethnic groups. Of these, 2708 men and 1678 women also had longitudinal measurements of WHR measured at the second and/or the third study visits (median follow-up 578 days, and 1135 days, respectively).
In cross-sectional analyses adjusted for age, race, and cardiovascular disease risk factors, T was negatively associated with baseline WHR in men, while in both sexes, E2 was positively associated and SHBG was negatively associated with WHR (all p<0.001). In longitudinal analyses, further adjusted for follow-up time and baseline WHR, baseline T was negatively associated with WHR at follow-up (p=0.001) in men, while in both sexes, E2 was positively associated (p=0.004), and SHBG was negatively associated with WHR (p<0.001). The longitudinal association of E2, but not T, was independent of SHBG. In both cross-sectional or longitudinal analyses, there were no associations between DHEA and WHR in either men or women.
Sex hormones are associated with WHR at baseline and also during follow-up above and beyond their baseline association. Future research is needed to determine if manipulation of hormones is associated with changes in central obesity.
Sex Hormones; epidemiology; waist to hip ratio
Sex hormones are thought to play an important role in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders in women. This study assessed the associations of total testosterone (T), bioavailable T, estradiol (E2), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) with depressive symptoms stratified on postmenopausal stage to determine whether associations were strongest for early postmenopausal women.
Women (N=1824) free of depressive symptoms at baseline (2000–2002) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis were categorized into tertiles of years postmenopause: T1, 0–10 years; T2, 11–20 years; and T3, 21–58 years. Multivariable-adjusted relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals were computed for the incidence of depressive symptoms, as defined by a score of 16 or higher on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale at examination 3 (2004–2005).
In analysis including all sex hormones, the RRs for incident depressive symptoms associated with 1 unit higher log(total T) was 0.57 (p=0.13), log(E2) was 0.78 (p=0.04), log(SHBG) was 1.84 (p=0.003) and log(DHEA) was 1.45 (p=0.08) in T1. Without adjustment for SHBG, the RR for log(bioavailable T) was 0.16 (p=0.04). However, in T2 and T3, there were no meaningful associations of hormone or SHBG levels with incident depressive symptoms. When stratified by HT use, results were consistent for HT users but attenuated for HT non-users.
In women early postmenopause, sex hormones were associated with incident depressive symptoms.
sex hormones; CES-D; depression; testosterone; estradiol; SHBG
Changes in sex hormones with weight loss might have implications for breast cancer prevention but have not been examined extensively, particularly in African-American (AA) women.
We conducted a prospective study of 278 overweight/obese postmenopausal women (38% AA) not taking hormone therapy within the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial. All participants lost at least 4 kg after a 6-month weight-loss phase and attempted to maintain weight loss during the subsequent 12 months. We evaluated the percentage changes in estrone, estradiol, free estradiol, testosterone, free testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) using generalized estimating equations.
In all study phases, AA women had higher levels of estrogen and testosterone concentrations, independent of adiposity. On average, participants lost 7.7 kg during the weight-loss phase, and concentrations of estrone (-5.7%, P = 0.006), estradiol (-9.9%, P <0.001), free estradiol (-13.4%, P <0.0001), and free testosterone (-9.9%, P <0.0001) decreased, while the SHBG concentration (16.2%, P <0.001) increased. Weight change did not significantly affect total testosterone or other androgen concentrations. Compared with non-AA women, AA women experienced less change in estrogens per kilogram of weight change (that is, per 1 kg weight loss: estrone, -0.6% vs. -1.2%, P-interaction = 0.10; estradiol, -1.1% vs. -1.9%, P-interaction = 0.04; SHBG, 0.9% vs. 1.6%, P-interaction = 0.006; free estradiol, -1.4% vs. -2.1%, P-interaction = 0.01).
To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to examine and compare the effects of intentional weight loss and maintenance on a panel of sex hormones in AA women and non-AA women. Although speculative, these data suggest hormonal differences may contribute to different racial patterns of breast cancer incidence and mortality and encourage further investigations to understand the long-term effects of weight loss on sex hormones in obese postmenopausal women.
Sex steroid hormones have been postulated to involve in blood pressure (BP) regulation. We examine the association of endogenous sex hormone levels with longitudinal change of BP and risk of developing hypertension in initially normotensive postmenopausal women.
We conducted prospective analysis among 619 postmenopausal women free of hypertension at baseline in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Change of BP and development of incident hypertension were assessed during a mean of 4.8 years follow-up.
After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and lifestyle factors, baseline serum estradiol (E2), total and bioavailable testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were each positively and sex- hormone binding globulin (SHBG) was inversely associated with risk of hypertension. Additional adjustment for body mass index eliminated the associations for E2 and T but only attenuated the associations for DHEA and SHBG. The corresponding multivariable hazard ratios (95% CIs) in the highest quartile were 1.28 (0.83–1.97) for E2, 1.38 (0.89–2.14) for total T, 1.42 (0.90–2.23) for bioavailable T, 1.54 (1.02–2.31) for DHEA, and 0.48 (0.30–0.76) for SHBG. Adjustment for fasting glucose, insulin, and C-reactive protein further attenuated the association for DHEA but not SHBG. Associations of sex hormones with longitudinal BP change were similar.
In postmenopausal women, higher endogenous E2, T, and DHEA and lower SHBG were associated with higher incidence of hypertension and greater longitudinal rise in BP. The associations for E2, T, and DHEA were mostly explained by adiposity, while the association for SHBG was independent of measures of adiposity, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation.
sex steroid hormones; hypertension; blood pressure; postmenopausal women; prospective study; epidemiology
We tested the hypothesis that increasing DHEAS levels is associated with improved insulin resistance in patients with PCOS.
Cross-sectional cohort analysis.
Academic medical center.
352 women with PCOS.
Patients presenting for evaluation of sumptoms related to androgen excess were evaluated physically and biochemically through laboratory analysis.
Main Outcome Measures
Circulating DHEAS, total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (HP) levels, and calculated homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).
Bivariate analysis indicated that all parameters were associated with HOMA-IR, except HP and age, and confirmed a negative correlation between DHEAS and HOMA-IR. Multivariate analysis indicated that increases in DHEAS, SHBG, HP, and age were associated with decreasing HOMA-IR, while increases in FT, BMI, and WHR were associated with increasing HOMA-IR. In decreasing order of importance, the following variables predicted insulin resistance: Body mass index (BMI) > waist-hip ratio (WHR) > age > DHEAS > FT > SHBG > HP.
DHEAS is negatively correlated to insulin resistance in PCOS, and in our model ranked just behind other well-established predictors including BMI, WHR, and age. Whether this is due to a direct beneficial effect on insulin action by adrenal androgens such as DHEA, or whether DHEAS simply reflects the circulating levels of hyperinsulinemia, remains to be determined.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; PCOS; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; DHEAS; insulin resistance; adrenal androgens
Conflicting findings exist regarding the associations of sex hormones with subclinical atherosclerosis.
This is a substudy from MESA of 881 postmenopausal women and 978 men who had both abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) quantified by computed tomography and sex hormone levels assessed [Testosterone (T), estradiol (E2), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)]. We examined the association of sex hormones with presence and extent of AAC.
For women, SHBG was inversely associated with both AAC presence [OR=0.62, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.91 for 1 unit greater log(SHBG) level] and extent [0.29 lower log(AAC) for 1 unit greater log(SHBG) level, β= −0.29 (95% CI −0.57 to −0.006)] adjusting for age, race, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, BMI, physical activity, and other sex hormones. After further adjustment for total and HDL-cholesterol, SHBG was not associated with ACC presence or extent. In men, there was no association between SHBG and AAC. In both men and women, neither T, E2, nor DHEA was associated with AAC presence or extent.
After adjustment for non-lipid cardiovascular risk factors, SHBG levels are inversely associated with both the presence and severity of AAC in women but not in men, which may be accounted for by HDL.
sex hormone binding globulin; abdominal aortic calcification; sex hormones; subclinical atherosclerosis
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified common genetic variants that contribute to breast cancer risk. Discovering additional variants has become difficult, as power to detect variants of weaker effect with present sample sizes is limited. An alternative approach is to look for variants associated with quantitative traits that in turn affect disease risk. As exposure to high circulating estradiol and testosterone, and low sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels is implicated in breast cancer etiology, we conducted GWAS analyses of plasma estradiol, testosterone, and SHBG to identify new susceptibility alleles. Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), and Sisters in Breast Cancer Screening data were used to carry out primary meta-analyses among ∼1600 postmenopausal women who were not taking postmenopausal hormones at blood draw. We observed a genome-wide significant association between SHBG levels and rs727428 (joint β = -0.126; joint P = 2.09×10–16), downstream of the SHBG gene. No genome-wide significant associations were observed with estradiol or testosterone levels. Among variants that were suggestively associated with estradiol (P<10–5), several were located at the CYP19A1 gene locus. Overall results were similar in secondary meta-analyses that included ∼900 NHS current postmenopausal hormone users. No variant associated with estradiol, testosterone, or SHBG at P<10–5 was associated with postmenopausal breast cancer risk among CGEMS participants. Our results suggest that the small magnitude of difference in hormone levels associated with common genetic variants is likely insufficient to detectably contribute to breast cancer risk.
To investigate the relationship between endogenous androgens and body fat distribution in early and late postmenopausal women.
Materials and Methods
We enrolled postmenopausal women consisting of an early group (≤5 years since menopause, n = 105) and a late group (≥10 years since menopause, n = 107). Each group was subdivided into normal weight (BMI <24 kg/m2) group, overweight and obese (BMI ≥24 kg/m2) group. Fasting total testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels were measured. Body fat distribution was evaluated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).
Late postmenopausal women had a higher proportion of body fat than early postmenopausal women. The body fat of the overweight and obese women had a greater tendency to accumulate in the abdomen compared with the normal weight women both in early and late postmenopausal groups. The overweight and obese women had a higher free testosterone (FT) than the normal weight women in early postmenopausal women (P<0.05). In late postmenopausal women, the overweight and obese women had higher DHEA-S levels than normal weight women (P<0.05). No direct relationship was observed between the T levels and body fat distribution both in early and late postmenopausal groups (P>0.05).The FT in early postmenopausal women and the DHEA-S levels in late postmenopausal women correlated positively with the trunk/leg fat ratio (T/L) and the proportion of android fat whereas correlated negatively with the proportion of gynoid fat in the partial correlation and multiple linear regression analyses (all P<0.05).
Serum T levels do not correlate directly with body fat distribution, the FT in early postmenopausal women and DHEA-S levels in late postmenopausal women correlate positively with abdominal fat accumulation.
We examined cross-sectional associations between sex hormones and carotid artery intimal-medial thickness (cIMT) and coronary artery calcium in women in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Serum testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and dehydroepiandrosterone levels were measured in 1,947 postmenopausal women aged 45-84 years (30% White, 14% Chinese-American, 31% Black, and 25% Hispanic) and not on hormone therapy. Using multiple linear regression we evaluated associations between log(sex hormone) levels and log(cIMT) adjusted for age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI) and cardiac risk factors. Associations between sex hormone levels and the presence and extent of coronary calcium were evaluated.
Total and bioavailable testosterone were positively associated with common cIMT independent of age, BMI, hypertension, smoking, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and insulin sensitivity (p=0.009 and p=0.002 respectively). SHBG was negatively associated with common cIMT (p=0.001) but further adjustment for BMI, cardiovascular risk factors, and LDL- and HDL-cholesterol removed significance. Estradiol and dehydroepiandrosterone were not associated with common cIMT. Sex hormones were not associated with presence of coronary calcium. Among women with measurable coronary calcium, higher SHBG (p=0.012) and lower bioavailable testosterone (p=0.007) were associated with greater coronary calcium score. No heterogeneity by ethnicity was found. In postmenopausal women, testosterone is independently associated with greater common cIMT. SHBG is negatively associated and this may be mediated by LDL- and HDL-cholesterol. In contrast, SHBG and testosterone were associated with extent of coronary calcium but in the opposite direction compared to carotid intimal-medial thickness. These differences warrant further evaluation.
Gonadal steroid hormones; atherosclerosis; postmenopausal women; carotid intimal-medial thickness; coronary calcium
Traditionally, oestrogens were considered to be protective for the cardiovascular system for premenopausal women. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective case–control study to examine the association between endogenous oestrogens and acute myocardial infarction (AMI) risk among postmenopausal women.
A case–control study was performed among 30 primary AMI patients and 60 control subjects. Baseline characteristics data was collected and endogenous sex hormones levels were determined using chemoluminescence and radioimmunoassay methods. Conditional logistic regression models were developed with adjustment for confounders.
Compared with controls, the circulating oestrone, oestradiol, androstenedione and testosterone levels were significantly higher in AMI patients (P < 0.05) while the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) level was lower (P < 0.05). Spearman correlation coefficients showed oestradiol was positively correlated with body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) in cases, but not in controls. In univariable conditional logistic regression models, oestrone, oestradiol, testosterone, WHR, BMI, diabetes and hypertension were all found to be positively associated with AMI (P < 0.05). After adjusting for these factors, oestradiol (odds ratio (OR) = 4.75; 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 1.07–21.10; P = 0.04) and WHR (OR = 6.46; 95 % CI = 1.09–38.39; P = 0.04) continued to demonstrate strong positive associations with AMI.
A higher level of oestradiol was potentially associated with primary AMI risk among postmenopausal women.
Oestrogens; Acute myocardial infarction; Acute stress; Adipose tissue; Postmenopausal
Among postmenopausal women, declining estrogen may facilitate fat partitioning from the periphery to the intra-abdominal space. Furthermore, it has been suggested that excess androgens contribute to a central fat distribution pattern in women. The objective of this longitudinal study was to identify independent associations of the hormone milieu with fat distribution in postmenopausal women. 53 healthy postmenopausal women, either using or not using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), were evaluated at baseline and 2 years. The main outcomes were intra-abdominal adipose tissue (IAAT), subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAAT), and total thigh fat analyzed by computed tomography (CT) scanning and leg fat and total body fat mass measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Serum estradiol, estrone, estrone sulfate, total testosterone, free testosterone, androstenedione, DHEA-S, SHBG, and cortisol were assessed. On average in all women combined, IAAT increased by 10% (10.5 cm2) over two years (P<0.05). Among HRT users, estradiol was inversely associated with, and estrone was positively associated with, 2-yr gain in IAAT. Among HRT non-users, free testosterone was inversely associated with, and SHBG was positively associated with, 2-yr gain in IAAT. These results suggest that in postmenopausal women using HRT, greater circulating estradiol may play an integral role in limiting lipid deposition to the intra-abdominal cavity, a depot associated with metabolically detrimental attributes. However, a high proportion of weak estrogens may promote fat partitioning to the intra-abdominal cavity over time. Further, among postmenopausal women not using HRT, greater circulating free testosterone may limit IAAT accrual.
To examine 1) the relationships between endogenous androgens and bone mineral density (BMD), 2) the relationships between sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and BMD, and 3) the associations of endogenous androgens and SHBG with biochemical markers of bone turnover, a cross-sectional study was carried out in 88 healthy pre-, peri-, and postmenopausal women aged 35 to 74. Measurements of BMDs at the ultradistal radius and ulna, and the distal radius (using DEXA), estrogens, androgens, deoxypyridinoline (D-Pyr) and intact bone gla protein (I-BGP) were performed. In the multivariate regression models testosterone (T) was positively correlated with BMD at the ultradistal radius and ulna in perimenopausal women, and was positively correlated with BMD at the ultradistal radius and ulna, and the distal radius in postmenopausal women. T was positively associated with I-BGP in premenopausal women (r = 0.65, p < 0.01), and negatively associated with D-Pyr in pre- (r = -0.53, p < 0.05) and postmenopausal women (r = -0.49, p < 0.001). On the other hand, SHBG was negatively correlated with BMD at die ultradistal radius and ulna, and die distal radius in pre- and postmenopausal women in the models. SHBG was positively related to D-Pyr in pre(r = 0.57, p < 0.05) and postmenopausal women (r = 0.41, p < 0.01), and negatively related to I-BGP in postmenopausal women (r = -0.38, p < 0.01). These findings suggest that endogenous androgens may exert positive influences on BMD, and that SHBG may have negative effects on BMD.
estrogens; androgens; sex-hormone binding globulin; biochemical marker of bone turnover; bone mineral density
The association between type 2 diabetes and low testosterone has been well recognized. However, testosterone levels in men with prediabetes have been rarely reported. We aimed to investigate whether prediabetes was associated with an increased risk of testosterone deficiency.
This study included 1,306 men whose sex hormones was measured during a medical examination. Serum total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin were measured; free and bioavailable testosterone concentrations were calculated by Vermeulen’s formula. Prediabetes was defined by impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired postprandial glucose (IPG), or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) 5.7%-6.4%. Logistic regression was performed to obtain the odds ratios (OR) for subnormal total testosterone (<300 ng/dL) or free testosterone (<6 ng/dL) in prediabetic and diabetic men compared with normoglycemic individuals, while adjusting for age, BMI, waist circumference, and metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Normoglycemia, prediabetes, and diabetes were diagnosed in 577 (44.2%), 543 (41.6%), and 186 (14.2%) men, respectively. Prediabetes was associated with an increased risk of subnormal total testosterone compared to normoglycemic individuals (age-adjusted OR=1.87; 95%CI=1.38-2.54). The risk remained significant in all multivariate analyses. After adjusting for MetS, the OR in prediabetic men equals that of diabetic patients (1.49 versus 1.50). IFG, IPG, and HbA1c 5.7%-6.4% were all associated with an increased risk of testosterone deficiency, with different levels of significance in multivariate analyses. However, neither prediabetes nor diabetes was associated with subnormal free testosterone in multivariate analyses.
Prediabetes is associated with an increased risk of testosterone deficiency, independent of obesity and MetS. After adjusting for MetS, the risk equals that of diabetes. Our data suggest that testosterone should be measured routinely in men with prediabetes.
Endogenous sex hormone levels are associated with risks of breast cancer overall and estrogen receptor (ER)–positive breast tumors; however, their associations with ER-negative tumors remain unclear.
In a case–cohort study within the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study among postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years, we examined associations between endogenous testosterone and estradiol levels and the risks of ER-negative and ER-positive breast cancers. Serum levels of bioavailable testosterone and estradiol were assessed at the baseline visit in 317 invasive breast cancer case subjects and in a subcohort of 594 women. Bioavailable sex hormone levels were calculated using the total hormone level and the sex hormone–binding globulin concentration (measured by radioimmunoassays and a chemiluminescent immunoassay, respectively). Cox proportional hazards regression was used for statistical analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided.
The unadjusted absolute rates of ER-negative breast cancer for testosterone quartiles 1–4 were 0.34, 0.20, 0.23, and 0.21 per 10 000 person-years, respectively. Compared with women in the lowest quartile of testosterone level, those in quartile 2 had a 56% lower risk of ER-negative cancer (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.44, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.23 to 0.85), those in quartile 3 had a 45% lower risk (HR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.30 to 1.01), and those in quartile 4 had a 49% lower risk (HR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.28 to 0.94), independent of other risk factors. Estradiol level was not associated with ER-negative breast cancer. ER-positive breast cancer risk increased with higher testosterone levels (Ptrend = .04), but this trend was not statistically significant after adjustment for estradiol (Ptrend = .15). ER-positive cancer risk was approximately twofold higher in women with estradiol levels in quartiles 2–4 compared with women in quartile 1, independent of risk factors.
Higher serum levels of bioavailable testosterone are associated with lower risks of ER-negative breast cancer in postmenopausal women.