Sex-specific metabolic profiles of androgens and its main binding protein SHBG in a middle aged population without diabetes

Sci Rep. 2017 May 22;7(1):2235. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02367-y.


The role of androgens in metabolism with respect to sex-specific disease associations is poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to provide molecular signatures in plasma and urine of androgen action in a sex-specific manner using state-of-the-art metabolomics techniques. Our study population consisted of 430 men and 343 women, aged 20-80 years, who were recruited for the cross-sectional population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP-TREND), Germany. We used linear regression models to identify associations between testosterone, androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS) as well as sex hormone-binding globulin and plasma or urine metabolites measured by mass spectrometry. The analyses revealed major sex-specific differences in androgen-associated metabolites, particularly for levels of urate, lipids and metabolic surrogates of lifestyle factors, like cotinine or piperine. In women, in particular in the postmenopausal state, androgens showed a greater impact on the metabolome than in men (especially DHEAS and lipids were highly related in women). We observed a novel association of androstenedione on the metabolism of biogenic amines and only a small sex-overlap of associations within steroid metabolism. The present study yields new insights in the interaction between androgens and metabolism, especially about their implication in female metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Binding
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*


  • Androgens
  • Biomarkers
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin