The study was presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting this month. In addition to finding that higher levels of testosterone led to lower HDL, and that estrogen didn’t affect HDL, Yu’s team found that low levels of estrogen led to higher fasting blood sugar levels, worsening insulin resistance and increasing fat in muscles. The latter indicates developing diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease.
“We found that estrogen deficiency worsens glycemic indices in men, inducing higher levels of fasting glucose and worsened insulin resistance,” Yu told DrugDiscovery & Development. “Estrogen deficiency is thought to have a similar effect in women. We found that testosterone, and not estrogen deficiency, negatively regulates HDL in men. In contrast, estrogens are thought to increase HDL levels in women.”
More work needs to be done.
“It is important to evaluate whether other cardiovascular risk factors are similarly regulated by gonadal steroids in men,” Yu concluded. “For example, we plan to study effects of testosterone and estrogen on inflammatory markers as well as hormones related to fat metabolism and cardiovascular function. An improved understanding of these effects may help to explain sex differences in cardiovascular disease