The dark side of testosterone deficiency: I. Metabolic syndrome and erectile dysfunction

J Androl. Jan-Feb 2009;30(1):10-22. doi: 10.2164/jandrol.108.005215. Epub 2008 Jul 17.


The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is considered the most important public health threat of the 21st century. This syndrome is characterized by a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors including increased central abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein, high blood pressure, increased fasting glucose, and hyperinsulinemia. These factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and/or type 2 diabetes. Although the etiology of this syndrome is thought to stem from obesity and physical inactivity, the extent of interactions of the individual MetS components with one another remains poorly defined. Obesity, diabetes, hypogonadism, and specific hormone and metabolic profiles have been implicated in the pathophysiology of CVD. The evolving role of androgens in MetS and CVD is of paramount importance. Reduced androgen levels associated with hypogonadism or androgen deprivation therapy increase cardiovascular risk factors and produce marked adverse effects on cardiovascular function. MetS has been associated with hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction (ED), and MetS may be considered a risk factor for ED. It is suggested that MetS, diabetes, and CVD will increase in the upcoming decades. Thus, it is critically important to develop a better understanding of how obesity, diabetes and hypogonadism contribute to androgen deficiency and the various pathophysiologic states of vascular disease. In this review we discuss the current literature pertaining to androgen deficiency, MetS, and ED, because the relationship of these factors is of scientific and clinical importance. Specifically, we will focus on exploring the relationships between hypogonadism, obesity, MetS, and ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Erectile Dysfunction / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / chemically induced
  • Hypogonadism / complications*
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / deficiency*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use
  • Waist Circumference


  • Cytokines
  • Testosterone