Plasma Metabonomics in Insulin-Resistant Hypogonadic Patients Induced by Testosterone Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jul 14;23(14):7754. doi: 10.3390/ijms23147754.


Hypogonadic subjects with insulin resistance (IR) showed different metabonomic profiles compared to normo-insulinemic subjects (IS). Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may have a different impact on the metabolisms of those with the presence or absence of insulin resistance. We evaluated the changes in the metabolism of IR hypogonadic patients before and after 60 days of TRT. The metabonomic plasma profiles from 20 IR hypogonadal patients were recorded using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) and high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). Plasma metabolites, before and after 60 days of TRT, were compared. In hypogonadic patients, carnosine, which is important for improving performance during exercise, increased. Conversely, proline and lysine-amino acids involved in the synthesis of collagen-reduced. Triglycerides decreased and fatty acids (FFAs) increased in the blood as a consequence of reduced FFA β-oxidation. Glycolysis slightly improved, while the Krebs cycle was not activated. Gluconeogenesis (which is the main energy source for hypogonadal IR before TRT) stopped after treatment. As a consequence, lactate and acetyl CoA increased significantly. Both lactate and acetyl CoA were metabolized into ketone bodies which increased greatly, also due to leucine/isoleucine degradation. Ketone bodies were derived predominantly from acetyl CoA because the reaction of acetyl CoA into ketone bodies is catalyzed by mtHMGCoA synthase. This enzyme is inhibited by insulin, which is absent in IR patients but overexpressed following testosterone administration. Ketosis is an alternative route for energy supply and provides the same metabolic effects as insulin but at the metabolic or primitive control level, which bypasses the complex signaling pathway of insulin. After treatment, the hypogonadic patients showed clinical symptoms related to ketonuria. They presented similarly to those following a ketogenic diet, the so-called 'keto flu'. This must be taken into account before the administration of TRT to hypogonadic patients.

Keywords: hypogonadism; insulin resistance; ketone bodies; ketosis; lactate; metabolisms; testosterone therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism* / diagnosis
  • Hypogonadism* / drug therapy
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin, Regular, Human / therapeutic use
  • Ketone Bodies / therapeutic use
  • Ketosis*
  • Lactates / therapeutic use
  • Testosterone / pharmacology


  • Insulin
  • Insulin, Regular, Human
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Lactates
  • Testosterone
  • Acetyl Coenzyme A

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.