Association of hormonal dysregulation with metabolic syndrome in older women: Data from the InCHIANTI study

Marcello Maggio, Fulvio Lauretani, Gian Paolo Ceda, Stefania Bandinelli, Shehzad Basaria, Giuseppe Paolisso, Alessandro Ble, Josephine M. Egan, E. Jeffrey Metter, Angela M. Abbatecola, Giovanni Zuliani, Carmelinda Ruggiero, Giorgio Valenti, Jack M. Guralnik, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Conditions associated with hyperandrogenism are often associated with glucose intolerance and other features of MetS in young women. As the prevalence of MetS increases with age and is probably multifactorial, it is reasonable to hypothesize that age-related changes in androgens and other hormones might contribute to the development of MetS in older persons. However, this hypothesis has never been tested in older women. We hypothesized that high levels of testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), and cortisol and low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and IGF-I would be associated with MetS in a representative cohort of older Italian women independently of confounders (including inflammatory markers). After exclusion of participants on hormone replacement therapy and those with a history of bilateral oophorectomy, 512 women (≥65 yr) had complete data on testosterone, cortisol, DHEA-S, SHBG, fasting insulin, total and free IGF-I, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP). MetS was defined according to ATP-III criteria. Insulin resistance was calculated according to HOMA. MetS was found in 145 women (28.3%). Participants with vs. those without MetS had higher age-adjusted levels of bioavailable testosterone (P <0.001), IL-6 (P <0.001), CRP (P <0.001), and HOMA (P <0.001) and lower levels of SHBG (P <0.001). After adjustment for potential confounders, participants with decreased SHBG had an increased risk of MetS (P <0.0001) vs. those with low SHBG. In a further model including all hormones and confounders, log SHBG was the only independent factor associated with MetS (OR: 0.44, 95% CI 0.21-0.91, P = 0.027). In older women, SHBG is negatively associated with MetS independently of confounders, including inflammatory markers and insulin resistance. Further studies are needed to support the notion that raising SHBG is a potential therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of MetS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgens
  • Hormonal dysregulation
  • Insulin-like growth factor I
  • Sex hormone-binding globulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry


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