Low sex hormone-binding globulin is associated with the metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women

Metabolism. 2006 Nov;55(11):1473-80. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2006.06.017.


Although an association between the metabolic syndrome and hyperandrogenism has been suggested in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, few studies have investigated this relationship in postmenopausal women. We measured estradiol, testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and calculated the free androgen index (FAI) in 212 postmenopausal women not using hormone therapy in the Women's Health Study. A modified definition of the metabolic syndrome (3 or more of the following: abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipoprotein, elevated blood pressure, and abnormal glucose metabolism) from the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults was used. Women with the metabolic syndrome had higher mean levels of estradiol, testosterone, and FAI values and lower SHBG levels. Higher FAI and lower SHBG were associated with all components of the metabolic syndrome. After adjustment for BMI and other factors, women in the highest tertile of FAI had an odds ratio of 12.6 (95% confidence interval, 3.8-41.6) for the metabolic syndrome, whereas those in the lowest SHBG tertile had an odds ratio of 7.3 (95% confidence interval, 2.7-19.8). When stratified by body mass index, the associations with high FAI and low SHBG remained significant even in women with body mass index less than 26.7 kg/m2. An androgenic hormone profile is associated with both the individual components of the metabolic syndrome and clustering of metabolic abnormalities in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Triglycerides
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Glucose