Sex differences, endogenous sex-hormone hormones, sex-hormone binding globulin, and exogenous disruptors in diabetes and related metabolic outcomes

J Diabetes. 2018 Jun;10(6):428-441. doi: 10.1111/1753-0407.12517. Epub 2017 Jan 23.


In assessing clinical and pathophysiological development of type 2 diabetes (T2D), the critical role of the sex steroids axis is underappreciated, particularly concerning the sex-specific relationships with many relevant cardiometabolic outcomes. In this issue of the Journal of Diabetes, we provide a comprehensive overview of these significant associations of germline variants in the genes governing the sex steroid pathways, plasma levels of steroid hormones, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) with T2D risk that have been observed in many clinical and high-quality large prospective cohorts of men and women across ethnic populations. Together, this body of evidence indicates that sex steroids and SHBG should be routinely incorporated into clinical characterization of T2D patients, particularly in screening prediabetic patients, such as those with metabolic syndrome, using plasma levels of SHBG. Given that several germline mutations in the SHBG gene have also been directly related to both plasma concentrations of SHBG and clinical manifestation of T2D, targeting signals in the sex steroid axis, particularly SHBG, may have significant utility in the prediction and treatment of T2D. Further, many of the environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals may exert their potential adverse effects on cardiometabolic outcomes via either estrogenic or androgenic signaling pathways, highlighting the importance of using the sex steroids and SHBG as important biochemical markers in both clinical and population studies in studying sex-specific mechanisms in the pathogenesis of T2D and its complications, as well as the need to equitably allocate resources in studying both men and women.

Keywords: 2型糖尿病; cardiovascular disease; endocrine disruptors; sex hormones; sex-steroids binding protein; type 2 diabetes; 内分泌干扰物; 心血管疾病; 性激素; 性类固醇结合蛋白.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin