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Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009 Dec;5(12):673-81. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2009.212. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Testosterone deficiency, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.

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Center of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, WHO Collaboration Center for Male Reproduction, M√ľnster, Germany.


Changing lifestyles and an excess of food supply in developed countries have resulted in an increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity. As a consequence, a disorder of complex pathophysiology involving visceral adipose tissue as an endocrine organ, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and hypertension has emerged-the so-called metabolic syndrome. This disorder can lead to the manifestation of type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. In men, testosterone deficiency may contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome. In turn, states of hyperinsulinemia and obesity lead to a reduction of testicular testosterone production. Testosterone has reciprocal effects on the generation of muscle and visceral adipose tissue by influencing the commitment of pluripotent stem cells and by inhibiting the development of preadipocytes. Insulin sensitivity of muscle cells is increased by augmenting mitochondrial capacity and fostering expression of oxidative phosphorylation genes. Testosterone has a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells, which is possibly exerted by androgen-receptor-mediated mechanisms and influence of inflammatory cytokines. As some, but not all, epidemiological and interventional studies indicate, testosterone substitution might be helpful in preventing or attenuating the metabolic syndrome in aging men with late-onset hypogonadism and in hypogonadal patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, but larger controlled trials are needed to confirm such hypotheses.

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