Objective: The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between serum testosterone levels and insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function in men.
Research design and methods: A total of 60 men (mean age 60.5 +/- 1.2 years) had a detailed hormonal and metabolic evaluation. Insulin sensitivity was measured using a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Mitochondrial function was assessed by measuring maximal aerobic capacity (V(O2max)) and expression of oxidative phosphorylation genes in skeletal muscle.
Results: A total of 45% of subjects had normal glucose tolerance, 20% had impaired glucose tolerance, and 35% had type 2 diabetes. Testosterone levels were positively correlated with insulin sensitivity (r = 0.4, P < 0.005). Subjects with hypogonadal testosterone levels (n = 10) had a BMI >25 kg/m(2) and a threefold higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome than their eugonadal counterparts (n = 50); this relationship held true after adjusting for age and sex hormone-binding globulin but not BMI. Testosterone levels also correlated with V(O2max) (r = 0.43, P < 0.05) and oxidative phosphorylation gene expression (r = 0.57, P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: These data indicate that low serum testosterone levels are associated with an adverse metabolic profile and suggest a novel unifying mechanism for the previously independent observations that low testosterone levels and impaired mitochondrial function promote insulin resistance in men.