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Circulation. 2007 Nov 20;116(21):2427-34. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

Physiological testosterone replacement therapy attenuates fatty streak formation and improves high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the Tfm mouse: an effect that is independent of the classic androgen receptor.

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Academic Unit of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.



Research supports a beneficial effect of physiological testosterone on cardiovascular disease. The mechanisms by which testosterone produces these effects have yet to be elucidated. The testicular feminized (Tfm) mouse exhibits a nonfunctional androgen receptor and low circulating testosterone concentrations. We used the Tfm mouse to determine whether testosterone modulates atheroma formation via its classic signaling pathway involving the nuclear androgen receptor, conversion to 17beta-estradiol, or an alternative signaling pathway.


Tfm mice (n=31) and XY littermates (n=8) were separated into 5 experimental groups. Each group received saline (Tfm, n=8; XY littermates, n=8), physiological testosterone alone (Tfm, n=8), physiological testosterone in conjunction with the estrogen receptor alpha antagonist fulvestrant (Tfm, n=8), or physiological testosterone in conjunction with the aromatase inhibitor anastrazole (Tfm, n=7). All groups were fed a cholesterol-enriched diet for 28 weeks. Serial sections from the aortic root were examined for fatty streak formation. Blood was collected for measurement of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), non-HDLC, testosterone, and 17beta-estradiol. Physiological testosterone replacement significantly reduced fatty streak formation in Tfm mice compared with placebo-treated controls (0.37+/-0.07% versus 2.86+/-0.39%, respectively; P < or = 0.0001). HDLC concentrations also were significantly raised in Tfm mice receiving physiological testosterone replacement compared with those receiving placebo (2.81+/-0.30 versus 2.08+/-0.09 mmol/L, respectively; P = 0.05). Cotreatment with either fulvestrant or anastrazole completely abolished the improvement in HDLC.


Physiological testosterone replacement inhibited fatty streak formation in the Tfm mouse, an effect that was independent of the androgen receptor. The observed increase in HDLC is consistent with conversion to 17beta-estradiol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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