Androgen and progestagen effects on plasma lipids

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. Nov-Dec 1995;38(3):255-71. doi: 10.1016/s0033-0620(95)80016-6.


Androgens are 19-carbon steroid rings. Progestagens include both 19-carbon and 21-carbon steroid rings; the 19-carbon progestagens are generally more androgenic than are the 21-carbon compounds. Both androgens and progestagens are physiological regulators of plasma lipids, particularly high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The structure of a particular hormonal preparation, as well as its route of administration, modulates its regulatory effects. Both endogenous and exogenous androgens have a suppressive effect on HDL cholesterol in males, with little effect on other plasma lipoproteins. Oral and nonaromatizable androgens have a greater suppressive effect on HDL cholesterol, particularly on HDL2, than do aromatizable androgens. Cross-sectional studies in males generally show a positive relationship between serum T and plasma HDL levels; data in females suggest an inverse relationship between androgens and HDL cholesterol. Medroxy-progesterone acetate and related progestagens have a mild suppressive effect on plasma HDL levels. The C-19 compounds have a greater suppressive effect on HDL cholesterol and the HDL2 density subfraction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / blood
  • Anabolic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Androgens / therapeutic use
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins / physiology
  • Male
  • Progestins / pharmacology*
  • Puberty / blood
  • Puberty, Delayed / drug therapy
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Progestins