Effects of testosterone administration on fat distribution, insulin sensitivity, and atherosclerosis progression

Clin Infect Dis. 2003;37 Suppl 2:S142-9. doi: 10.1086/375878.


In spite of the widespread belief that testosterone supplementation increases the risk of atherosclerotic heart disease, evidence to support this premise is lacking. Although supraphysiological doses of testosterone, such as those used by athletes and recreational body builders, decrease plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentrations, replacement doses of testosterone have had only a modest or no effect on plasma HDL in placebo-controlled trials. In epidemiological studies, serum total and free testosterone concentrations have been inversely correlated with intra-abdominal fat mass, risk of coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Testosterone administration to middle-aged men is associated with decreased visceral fat and glucose concentrations and increased insulin sensitivity. Testosterone infusion increases coronary blood flow. Similarly, testosterone replacement retards atherogenesis in experimental models of atherosclerosis. However, the long-term risks and benefits of testosterone administration in human immunodeficiency virus-infected men with fat redistribution syndrome have not been studied in randomized clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / metabolism
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / drug therapy
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipids
  • Testosterone