Testosterone therapy increases lean body mass and decreases total fat mass in aging men with low normal testosterone levels. The major challenge is, however, to determine whether the metabolic consequences of testosterone therapy are overall positive. We have previously reported that 6-month testosterone therapy did not improve insulin sensitivity. We investigated the effect of testosterone therapy on regional body fat distribution and on the levels of the insulin-sensitizing adipokine, adiponectin, in aging men with low normal bioavailable testosterone levels.
A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study on 6-month testosterone treatment (gel) in 38 men, aged 60–78 years, with bioavailable testosterone <7.3 nmol/l, and a waist circumference >94 cm.
Central fat mass (CFM) and lower extremity fat mass (LEFM) were measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry. Subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and thigh subcutaneous fat area (TFA) were measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Adiponectin levels were measured using an in-house immunofluorometric assay. Coefficients (b) represent the placebo-controlled mean effect of intervention.
LEFM was decreased (b=−0.47 kg, P=0.07) while CFM did not change significantly (b=−0.66 kg, P=0.10) during testosterone therapy. SAT (b=−3.0%, P=0.018) and TFA (b=−3.0%, P<0.001) decreased, while VAT (b=1.0%, P=0.54) remained unchanged. Adiponectin levels decreased during testosterone therapy (b=−1.3 mg/l, P=0.001).
Testosterone therapy decreased subcutaneous fat on the abdomen and lower extremities, but visceral fat was unchanged. Moreover, adiponectin levels were significantly decreased during testosterone therapy.