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Testosterone and type 2 diabetes

Grossmann, Mathisa,b; Gianatti, Emily Ja,b; Zajac, Jeffrey Da,b

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: June 2010 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 247–256
doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32833919cf
Androgens: Edited by David Handelsman

Purpose of review To describe the relationship between testosterone levels and type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Recent findings Multiple epidemiological studies have shown that low testosterone levels are associated with and predict the future development of T2D and the metabolic syndrome. Although this relationship is confounded by the association of total testosterone with sex hormone-binding globulin, free testosterone remains associated with measures of insulin resistance and T2D in some, but not all studies. Although the link between low testosterone levels and insulin resistance is not solely a consequence of adiposity, current studies suggest that a substantial component is mediated through its association with body fat, in particular abdominal visceral adipose tissue. This testosterone–fat relationship is bi-directional, as both weight loss and testosterone therapy increase testosterone levels, reduce fat mass, and decrease insulin resistance.

Summary Low testosterone levels are very commonly found in men with T2D and are associated with aging and obesity. Whether testosterone treatment in men with T2D decreases insulin resistance above that attributable to its fat-reducing effect is currently unknown. Future studies should compare testosterone treatment with lifestyle changes (exercise and weight loss measures), and other insulin-sensitizing agents. Until further evidence is available, testosterone therapy outside clinical trials should be reserved for diabetic men with unequivocal hypogonadism.

aDepartment of Medicine, Austin Health/Northern Health, Australia

bDepartment of Endocrinology, Austin Health, University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Australia

Correspondence to Mathis Grossmann, Department of Medicine, Austin Health/Northern Health, University of Melbourne, Level 7, Lance Townsend Building, Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia Tel: +61 3 9496 5135/5477; fax: +61 3 9457 5485; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.