Higher serum testosterone is associated with increased risk of advanced hepatitis C-related liver disease in males

Hepatology. 2012 Mar;55(3):759-68. doi: 10.1002/hep.24618. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Males have strikingly increased risk of advanced liver disease. However, the association between testosterone and risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related advanced liver disease is unknown. We performed a cross-sectional study in male veterans with chronic HCV. Blood samples were obtained to measure total serum testosterone and perform the FibroSURE-ActiTest. Other risk-factor data were obtained through systematic questionnaires (e.g., alcohol), physical measurements (e.g., body mass index), and serological tests (e.g., viral load). The association between total testosterone and risk of advanced hepatic fibrosis (F3 and F3/F4) and inflammatory activity (A3 and A2/3) measured by the FibroSURE-ActiTest was evaluated with logistic regression. A total of 308 eligible study participants were prospectively recruited (mean age: 57; 52% African-American). There were 105 cases with advanced fibrosis and 203 mild fibrosis controls as well as 88 cases with advanced inflammatory activity and 220 mild activity controls. Mean total serum testosterone was significantly higher in advanced fibrosis cases as well as advanced inflammatory activity cases, compared to mild disease controls (6.0 versus 5.3 ng/mL and 5.9 versus 5.4 ng/mL, respectively). We observed a significant 25% increase in advanced fibrosis risk and 15% increase in advanced inflammatory activity risk for each 1-ng/mL increase in total serum testosterone. Total testosterone in the upper tertile was associated with an even greater excess risk of advanced fibrosis than advanced inflammatory activity (odds ratio [OR](adjusted advanced fibrosis) = 3.74; 95% CI: 1.86-6.54 versus OR(adjusted advanced inflammatory activity) = 2.23; 95% CI: 1.07-4.93, respectively).

Conclusions: Total serum testosterone is associated with an increased risk of both advanced hepatic fibrosis and advanced hepatic inflammatory activity in HCV-infected men. Testosterone may be important in the pathogenesis of HCV-related advanced liver disease in males.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology*
  • Liver Diseases / blood*
  • Liver Diseases / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Viral Load


  • Biomarkers
  • Testosterone