The authors Michael Leutner and Caspar Matzhold contributed equally to the manuscript.
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Testosterone plays an important role in the regulation of glucose metabolism. While earlier studies have shown that it has a protective effect in males, unfavorable effects of testosterone on glucose metabolism have been reported in females; however, whether there is a sex-specific relationship between testosterone and glucose metabolism in patients with prediabetes has not been investigated in detail hitherto.
This cross-sectional analysis investigated 423 males and 287 females with diagnosed prediabetes. Detailed assessment of their metabolic profiles was performed, including a 2‑h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), HbA1c levels, calculation of insulin resistance with homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), assessment of lipid metabolism, anthropometric parameters and the fatty liver index (FLI). By using Spearman’s correlation test, we investigated the sex-specific relationship between testosterone and metabolism in the prediabetic individuals.
In the present study, prediabetic females (mean age 58.6 years, confidence interval [CI: 57.6 y; 59.5 y]) were characterized by lower fasting plasma glucose levels (104.2 mg/dl [CI: 103.0 mg/dl; 105.4 mg/dl] vs. 106.9 mg/dl [CI: 106.0 mg/dl; 107.8 mg/dl]) and a lower FLI (49.5 [CI: 45.7; 53.2] vs. 58.8 [CI: 55.8; 61.8]), but presented with a higher risk of developing manifest type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years (FINDRISK score: 17.6 [CI: 17.1; 18.1] vs. 16.1 [CI: 15.7; 16.5]) when compared to prediabetic males (mean age: 58.04 years [CI: 57.0 y; 59.1 y]). Testosterone was negatively related to insulin resistance (HOMA-IR: Spearman’s ρ: −0.33, p < 0.01), 2‑h stimulated glucose levels during the OGTT (ρ = −0.18, p < 0.01), HbA1c levels (ρ = −0.13, p < 0.05), FLI and BMI in prediabetic males; however, no relationship between testosterone and metabolic parameters could be found in prediabetic females.
The increase of testosterone levels in males was related to a more favorable glucose metabolism, including lower HbA1c, lower stimulated glucose levels and higher insulin sensitivity; however, in prediabetic females, testosterone was not related to glucose metabolism.