Background: Whole body and abdominal obesity are associated with increased risk of diabetes mellitus and heart disease. The effects of testosterone therapy on whole body and visceral fat mass in HIV-infected men with abdominal obesity are unknown.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of testosterone therapy on intraabdominal fat mass and whole body fat distribution in HIV-infected men with abdominal obesity.
Methods: IN this multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, 88 HIV-positive men with abdominal obesity (waist-to-hip ratio > 0.95 or mid-waist circumference > 100 cm) and total testosterone 125-400 ng/dl, or bioavailable testosterone less than 115 ng/dl, or free testosterone less than 50 pg/ml on stable antiretroviral regimen, and HIV RNA less than 10,000 copies per milliliter were randomized to receive 10 g testosterone gel or placebo daily for 24 wk. Fat mass and distribution were determined by abdominal computerized tomography and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry during wk 0, 12, and 24. We used an intention-to-treat approach and nonparametric statistical methods.
Results: Baseline characteristics were balanced between groups. In 75 subjects evaluated, median percent change from baseline to wk 24 in visceral fat did not differ significantly between groups (testosterone 0.3%, placebo 3.1%, P = 0.75). Total (testosterone -1.5%, placebo 4.3%, P = 0.04) and sc (testosterone-7.2%, placebo 8.1%, P < 0.001) abdominal fat mass decreased in testosterone-treated men, but increased in placebo group. Testosterone therapy was associated with significant decrease in whole body, trunk, and appendicular fat mass by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (all P < 0.001), whereas whole body and trunk fat increased significantly in the placebo group. The percent of individuals reporting a decrease in abdomen (P = 0.01), neck (P = 0.08), and breast size (P = 0.01) at wk 24 was significantly greater in testosterone-treated than placebo-treated men. Testosterone-treated men had greater increase in lean body mass than placebo (testosterone 1.3%, placebo -0.3, P = 0.02). Plasma insulin, fasting glucose, and total high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels did not change significantly. Testosterone therapy was well tolerated.
Conclusions: Testosterone therapy in HIV-positive men with abdominal obesity and low testosterone was associated with greater decrease in whole body, total, and sc abdominal fat mass and a greater increase in lean mass compared to placebo. However, changes in visceral fat mass were not significantly different between groups. Further studies are needed to determine testosterone effects on insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular risk.