Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):291-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04486.x.


Objective: This study examines the physiological impact of a glucose load on serum testosterone (T) levels in men with varying glucose tolerance (GT).

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Patients and methods: 74 men (19-74 years, mean 51·4 ± 1·4 years) underwent a standard 75-g oral glucose tolerance test with blood sampling at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min. Fasting serum glucose, insulin, total T (and calculated free T), LH, SHBG, leptin and cortisol were measured.

Results: 57% of the men had normal GT, 30% had impaired GT and 13% had newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Glucose ingestion was associated with a 25% decrease in mean T levels (delta = -4·2 ± 0·3 nm, P < 0·0001). T levels remained suppressed at 120 min compared with baseline (13·7 ± 0·6 vs 16·5 ± 0·7 nm, P < 0·0001) and did not differ across GT or BMI. Of the 66 men with normal T levels at baseline, 10 (15%) had levels that decreased to the hypogonadal range (<9·7 nm) at one or more time points. SHBG, LH and cortisol levels were unchanged. Leptin levels decreased from baseline at all time points (P < 0·0001).

Conclusions: Glucose ingestion induces a significant reduction in total and free T levels in men, which is similar across the spectrum of glucose tolerance. This decrease in T appears to be because of a direct testicular defect, but the absence of compensatory changes in LH suggests an additional central component. Men found to have low nonfasting T levels should be re-evaluated in the fasting state.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00433173.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Glucose / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone
  • Glucose

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00433173