To evaluate androgen concentrations in relation to insulin resistance in men and women with and without NIDDM. Recent studies have indicated the potential importance of the regulation of insulin sensitivity by androgens in both women and men. Low sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) concentration is an independent risk factor for the development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) in women and is strongly associated statistically with signs of insulin resistance.
We compared measurements of anthropometric variables and SHBG, steroid hormone, and insulin concentrations of women and men who have NIDDM with those of control subjects.
Women with NIDDM had somewhat higher plasma insulin concentrations, lower SHBG, and higher free testosterone values than did control subjects with similar body mass index (BMI). Women with NIDDM had marginally higher waist-to-hip ratios (WHR). Plasma insulin concentrations correlated positively with BMI, WHR, and free testosterone and negatively with SHBG. In multivariate analyses, insulin concentrations remained positively associated with BMI and free testosterone. Men with NIDDM had higher fasting plasma insulin concentrations than did the nondiabetic control subjects. Testosterone and SHBG were lower in the diabetic men than in both control groups. The derived value of free testosterone was not different between groups. Univariate correlation analyses revealed tight statistical couplings between plasma insulin on the one hand and SHBG and testosterone concentrations (negative) on the other. In multivariate analyses, only the insulin-testosterone association remained.
Women with NIDDM have high levels of free testosterone and low levels of SHBG. Insulin resistance is closely correlated with these signs of hyperandrogenicity as well as with obesity. Men with NIDDM also have low levels of SHBG and, in contrast to women, low testosterone values. Insulin values correlate negatively with these hormonal factors. Based on the results of experimental work and intervention studies, we suggest that these androgen abnormalities might be causally related to insulin resistance in NIDDM.