Testosterone vs. aromatase inhibitor in older men with low testosterone: effects on cardiometabolic parameters

J. P. Dias, M. D. Shardell, O. D. Carlson, D. Melvin, G. Caturegli, L. Ferrucci, Chee Wei Chia, J. M. Egan, S. Basaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Testosterone (T) replacement is being increasingly offered to older men with age-related decline in testosterone levels. The effects of long-term testosterone replacement and aromatase inhibition (AI) on glucose homeostasis and cardiometabolic markers were determine in older non-diabetic men with low testosterone levels. Men ≥65 years, mean age 71 ± 3 years with serum total T < 350 ng/dL were randomized in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, proof-of-concept trial evaluating the effects of 5 g transdermal testosterone gel (TT) (n = 10), 1 mg anastrozole (n = 10) or placebo (n = 9) daily for 12 months. Homeostatic Model Assessment of insulin resistance (HOMAIR) was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included OGIS in response to OGTT, fasting lipids, C-reactive protein (CRP), adipokines, and abdominal and mid-thigh fat by computed tomography. All outcomes were assessed at baseline and 12 months. After 12 months, absolute changes in HOMAIR in both treatment arms (TT group: −0.05 ± 0.21); (AI group: 0.15 ± 0.10) were similar to placebo (−0.11 ± 0.26), as were CRP and fasting lipid levels. Adiponectin levels significantly decreased in the TT group (−1.8 ± 0.9 mg/L, p = 0.02) and abdominal subcutaneous fat (−60.34 ± 3.19 cm2, p = 0.003) and leptin levels (−1.5 ± 1.2 ng/mL, p = 0.04) were significantly lower with AI. Mid-thigh subcutaneous fat was reduced in both treatment arms (TT group: −4.88 ± 1.24 cm2, p = 0.008); (AI group: −6.05 ± 0.87 cm2, p = 0.0002). In summary, in this proof-of-concept trial, changes in HOMAIR AI were similar in all three groups while the effects of intervention on subcutaneous fat distribution and adipokines were variable. Larger efficacy and safety trials are needed before AI pharmacotherapy can be considered as a treatment option for low T levels in older men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • aromatase inhibition
  • inflammation
  • insulin sensitivity
  • lipids
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Urology


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