The adipose tissue metabolism: role of testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Jun:24 Suppl 2:S59-63. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801280.


Testosterone (T) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are fat-reducing hormones, even though they exert this effect by different mechanisms. In particular, T inhibits lipid uptake and lipoprotein-lipase (LDL) activity in adipocytes, and stimulates lipolysis by increasing the number of lipolytic beta-adrenergic receptors. An indirect sign of these effects is the decrease of adipocyte leptin production. Lastly, T inhibits differentiation of adipocyte precursor cells. Concerning DHEA, this hormone does not seen to have any of T effects; however, DHEA stimulates resting metabolic rate (RMR) and lipid oxidation, and enhances glucose disposal, by increasing the expression of GLUT-1 and GLUT-4 on fat cell plasma membrane. The insulin-like effect of DHEA would be associated to a decrease of plasma insulin concentrations and, thus, to an increase of the molar ratio between lipolytic hormones and insulin. Noteworthy, the fat-reducing effect of both T and DHEA seems to be more evident at the level of visceral adipose tissue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipolysis / drug effects
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Lipoprotein Lipase
  • Glucose