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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Feb 1;103(2):790-802. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-01559.

Effects of Sex Hormone Treatment on the Metabolic Syndrome in Transgender Individuals: Focus on Metabolic Cytokines.

Author information

Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.
Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV, Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.
Department of Endocrinology and Nephrology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University Medical Center Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany.
Department of Endocrinology and Center of Sexology and Gender, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.
Human Behavior Laboratory, Institute of Sex Research and Forensic Psychiatry, University Medical Center, Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.



Hormonal treatment in transgender persons affects many components of the metabolic syndrome (MS).


To determine the role of direct hormonal effects, changes in metabolic cytokines, and body composition on metabolic outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

24 transwomen and 45 transmen from the European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence were investigated at baseline and after 12 months of hormonal therapy.

Outcome Measures:

Best predictors for changes in components of MS, applying least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression.


In transwomen, a decrease in triglyceride levels was best explained by a decrease in fat mass and an increase in fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21); the decrease in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels was principally due to a decrease in resistin. A decrease in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol depended on an inverse association with fat mass. In contrast, in transmen, an increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was predicted by a decrease in FGF-21 and an increase in the waist/hip ratio; a decrease in the high-density lipoprotein/total cholesterol ratio depended on a decline in adiponectin levels. In transwomen, worsened insulin resistance and increased early insulin response seemed to be due to a direct treatment effect; however, improvements in hepatic insulin sensitivity in transmen were best predicted by a positive association with chemerin, resistin, and FGF-21 and were inversely related to changes in the waist/hip ratio and leptin and adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein levels.


The effects of hormonal therapy on different components of the MS are sex-specific and involve a complex interplay of direct hormonal effects, changes in body composition, and metabolic cytokine secretion.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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