Whether changes in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in childhood predict adolescent androgens is not known. We examined the longitudinal relationship between MRI-assessed visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in childhood and future testosterone (T) among 418 EPOCH participants (209 girls and 209 boys) who were, on average 10.5 years at visit 1 and 16.7 years at visit 2. We used reverse Cox proportional hazards models in which hazard ratios less than 1 indicate greater risk for low (undetectable) sex hormones consistent with pre-puberty. Models explored the associations of baseline VAT, and change in VAT from visit 1 to visit 2, with risk of low sex hormone levels at visit 2, adjusted for covariates selected through backwards regression (race, self-reported Tanner stage, maternal income, insulin and leptin levels). All analyses were stratified by sex. In addition, due to different patterns of fat deposition in white and non-white adults, we tested for effect modification by race. In boys, the association between VAT at visit 1 and T at visit 2 differed by race; more VAT at visit 1 was associated with lower risk of low T at visit 2 among non-white boys (HR 1.02, 95% CI 1.007, 1.04) but not white boys (HR 1.00, 95% CI 0.98, 1.01). In contrast, greater fat accumulation between visits was associated with higher risk of low T at visit 2 (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.83, 0.96), independent of race and other covariates. Among girls, neither baseline VAT levels, nor VAT accumulation between visits predicted risk of later low T concentrations. We conclude that greater VAT accumulation in childhood is associated with increased risk for low T levels, suggesting delayed puberty, in boys. These associations suggest that fat deposition may influence sex hormone profiles even in early childhood.
C. Kim: None. K.K. Harrall: None. D.H. Glueck: None. D. Dabelea: None.
National Institutes of Health