Role of endogenous androgens on carotid atherosclerosis in non-obese postmenopausal women

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2007 Dec;17(10):705-11. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2006.09.007. Epub 2007 Mar 28.


Background: Recent randomized trials on hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women raised many doubts about their role in cardiovascular disease prevention. Therefore the role of other sex hormones needed to be investigated. In particular androgens seem to have a protective role on atherosclerosis. The present study was performed to assess the role of endogenous sex hormones on carotid atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women.

Methods and results: We consecutively enrolled 101 postmenopausal women aged 45-75 (mean age 57.4) years referred to our University hospital menopausal health-screening clinic. The subjects underwent a medical history, a physical examination and biochemical analysis. Extracranial carotid arteries were assessed by ultrasound. Fifty percent of our sample had carotid plaques. On the multivariate logistic regression analysis age, glycaemia (positively) and testosterone (negatively) (P=0.02) were significantly correlated to carotid atherosclerosis. In non-obese subjects we found that participants in the third tertile had a significantly lower prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis (P=0.02) compared to those in the first tertile of testosterone.

Conclusions: These results suggest a possible protective role of endogenous androgens at least on carotid atherosclerosis. Of course these preliminary results should be supported by prospective studies. Also the different role of these hormones on obese and non-obese subjects needs to be clarified.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / blood*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Testosterone / physiology
  • Ultrasonography


  • Blood Glucose
  • Estrogens
  • Testosterone