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Symposium 4: Sex hormone abnormalities

Synthesis and regulation of sex hormone-binding globulin in obesity


Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a plasma glycoprotein with high binding affinity for testosterone and dihydrotestosterone and lower affinity for estradiol. SHBG is synthesized in the liver, and its plasma level is important in the regulation of plasma free and albumin-bound androgens and estrogens. Obesity and particularly excess visceral fat, known risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, are associated with decreased testosterone levels in males and SHBG levels in both sexes. SHBG is usually positively correlated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and negatively correlated with triglyceride and insulin concentrations. A positive association between SHBG and various measures of insulin sensitivity has been demonstrated in both sexes, suggesting that decreased SHBG levels may be one of the components of the metabolic syndrome. We have examined pituitary–adrenocortical function, glucose tolerance, and lipoprotein and hormone levels in a large cohort of Finnish males. Abdominal obesity appears to be associated with slight hypocortisolemia and increased sensitivity to exogenous adrenocorticotropin stimulation, which may contribute to the hyperinsulinemia and related metabolic changes including decreased SHBG levels in males.

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Correspondence to A Hautanen.

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Hautanen, A. Synthesis and regulation of sex hormone-binding globulin in obesity. Int J Obes 24 (Suppl 2), S64–S70 (2000).

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  • testosterone
  • estradiol
  • androgens estrogens
  • HDL
  • insulin
  • cortisol

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