Increasing insulin resistance is associated with a decrease in Leydig cell testosterone secretion in men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 May;90(5):2636-41. doi: 10.1210/jc.2004-2190. Epub 2005 Feb 15.


Insulin resistance is associated with low testosterone (T) levels in men, the mechanism of which is unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in men with a spectrum of insulin sensitivity. Twenty-one men (aged 25-65 yr) had a glucose tolerance test and assessment of insulin sensitivity using a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Insulin sensitivity, expressed as the M value (milligrams per kilograms(-1) per minute(-1)), was calculated from the glucose disposal rate during the final 30 min of the clamp. Eighteen subjects had blood sampling every 10 min for 12 h to assess LH pulsatility. Hypogonadism was then induced with a GnRH antagonist, followed by sequential stimulation testing with GnRH (750 ng/kg, iv) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG; 1000 IU, im) to assess pituitary and testicular responsiveness, respectively. Nine subjects had normal glucose tolerance, nine had impaired glucose tolerance, and three had diabetes mellitus. There was a positive relationship between M and T levels (r = 0.46; P < 0.05). No relationship was seen between M and parameters of LH secretion, including mean LH levels, LH pulse amplitude, LH pulse frequency, and LH response to exogenous GnRH administration. In contrast, a strong correlation was observed between M and the T response to hCG (r = 0.73; P < 0.005). Baseline T levels correlated with the increase in T after hCG administration (r = 0.47; P < 0.05). During the clamp, T levels increased from a baseline level of 367 +/- 30 to 419 +/- 38 ng/dl during the last 30 min (P < 0.05). From these data we conclude that insulin resistance is associated with a decrease in Leydig cell T secretion in men. Additional studies are required to determine the mechanism of this effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leydig Cells / metabolism*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Testosterone / metabolism*
  • Waist-Hip Ratio


  • Leptin
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone