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Atherosclerosis. 2008 Oct;200(2):432-8. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.12.032. Epub 2008 Feb 8.

Sex hormones, sex hormone binding globulin, and abdominal aortic calcification in women and men in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis (MESA).

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, United States.



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 0.42-0.91 for 1 unit greater log(SHBG) level] and extent [0.29 lower log(AAC) for 1 unit greater log(SHBG) level, beta=-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.

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