Sex hormone binding globulin as a potential drug candidate for liver-related metabolic disorders treatment

Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Sep:153:113261. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.113261. Epub 2022 Jun 20.


Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a hepatokine that binds to circulating steroid hormones (testosterone, oestradiol) to regulate their concentration in the bloodstream. Recently SHBG was recognized as an essential biomarker for metabolic syndrome (MetS) and hepatic steatosis development. At the hepatic level, the production of SHBG is mainly regulated by sex steroids and thyroxine. Studies of various research groups, including ours, showed that SHBG could be considered a reliable marker of insulin resistance and, therefore, can serve as a predictor of type 2 diabetes. Moreover, increased levels of circulating pro-inflammatory mediators strongly correlate with lowered serum levels of SHBG. This review paper emphasizes the role of SHBG as a potential drug candidate in the course of various metabolic dysfunctions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity, diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. The studies related to SHBG and its role in the course of metabolic disorders are very limited. Here, we have summarized the most current knowledge about SHBG and its mechanism of action, indicating a novel concept for its possible therapeutic application in the management framework of commonly occurring metabolic dysfunctions.

Keywords: Hepatokine; Inflammation; Insulin resistance; Metabolic syndrome; NAFLD; SHBG.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / metabolism
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Testosterone


  • Biomarkers
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone