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Steroids. 2011 Nov;76(12):1247-51. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2011.06.001. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Relationship of androgens to body composition, energy and substrate metabolism and aerobic capacity in healthy, young women.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.



To evaluate the role of physiologic levels of androgens and their precursors in the regulation of body composition, energy and substrate metabolism and aerobic capacity in healthy, cycling, premenopausal women.


We evaluated 30 young (27±1 year) premenopausal, non-obese (23±0.5 kg/m(2)), normally-cycling women, without clinical or chemical evidence of hyperandrogenism or hyperinsulinemia, for parameters of total and regional body composition, glucose tolerance, aerobic capacity and resting energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Serum was assayed for androgens and androgen precursors by techniques optimized to assess the low androgen levels in this population.


Higher serum testosterone levels correlated with greater fat mass (r=0.377; p=0.04), but not abdominal adiposity or other metabolic/physiologic variables. Additionally, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) was negatively related to visceral fat content (r=-0.569; p=0.02). Other serum androgens did not correlate with total or regional adiposity, skeletal muscle mass, aerobic capacity, glucose tolerance, or resting energy and substrate metabolism.


In this group of non-obese, premenopausal women with no clinical or chemical evidence of hyperandrogenemia, serum testosterone levels were positively related with fat mass, but not with abdominal adiposity; whereas, DHEA was negatively related to visceral adiposity. Our data suggest that within the normal physiologic range, testosterone is a predictor of overall adiposity, but that this effect does not appear to be associated with concomitant alterations in resting energy or substrate metabolism that could predispose to weight gain.

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