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Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7):961-5. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.02.012.

Relationship between endogenous testosterone and cardiovascular risk in early postmenopausal women.

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Gynecological Endocrinology Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Hospital de ClĂ­nicas de Porto Alegre, 90050-170 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death among postmenopausal women. Changes in endothelial function play an important role in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, and evidence suggests that interventions to improve endothelial function could modify the rates of progression and the risk of cardiovascular events. In addition, a positive association between markers of endothelial dysfunction and androgenicity has been described in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, suggesting a correlation with the early-onset endothelial dysfunction found in these patients. We performed a cross-sectional study to verify whether endogenous testosterone levels are correlated with markers of inflammation and endothelial function and with anthropometric and metabolic profile in 53 postmenopausal women. Serum testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, and plasma endothelin-1 (ET-1) were determined. Patients were stratified into 2 groups (higher or lower than the mean testosterone levels of the studied sample). Mean age was 55 years (+/-5), and median time since menopause was 5.5 years (interquartile range, 3-8 years). Body mass index and waist circumference were significantly higher in the group with testosterone levels >or=0.49 ng/mL. Median CRP levels were greater in the group with higher testosterone levels (1.17 [0.17-2.36] vs 0.17 [0.17-0.61] mg/L, P = .039). Median ET-1 levels were also higher in women with greater testosterone levels (0.84 [0.81-0.97] vs 0.81 [0.74-0.84] pg/mL, P = .023). An association of testosterone with CRP (r = 0.416, P = .004) and ET-1 (r = 0.323, P = .031) was observed. This association was dependent on homeostasis model assessment index for ET-1 but not CRP. Testosterone was also associated with waist circumference and blood pressure (P = .001). These data suggest that endogenous testosterone levels in recently postmenopausal women may be part of a proatherogenic profile. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess if androgenicity represents a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and the clinical relevance of its association with ET-1 and CRP in this population.

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