Testosterone Levels in Pre-Menopausal Women are Associated With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Midlife

Monika Sarkar*, Melissa Wellons, Marcelle I. Cedars, Lisa VanWagner, Erica P. Gunderson, Veeral Ajmera, Laura Torchen, David Siscovick, J. Jeffrey Carr, James G. Terry, Mary Rinella, Cora E. Lewis, Norah Terrault

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Young women with hyperandrogenism have high risk of metabolic co-morbidities, including increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether testosterone (the predominant androgen) is associated with NAFLD independent of metabolic co-factors is unclear. Additionally, whether testosterone confers increased risk of NAFLD in women without hyperandrogenism is unknown. Methods: Among women in the prospective population-based multicenter Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, we assessed whether free testosterone levels measured at Year 2 (1987-1988) were associated with prevalent NAFLD at Year 25 (2010-2011) (n=1052). NAFLD was defined using noncontrast abdominal CT scan with liver attenuation≤40 Hounsfield units after excluding other causes of hepatic fat. The association of free testosterone with prevalent NAFLD was assessed by logistic regression. Results: Increasing quintiles of free testosterone were associated with prevalent NAFLD at Year 25 (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04-1.50, P=0.015), independent of insulin resistance, body mass index, waist circumference, and serum lipids. Importantly, the association persisted among n=955 women without androgen excess (AOR 1.27, 95% CI 1.05-1.53, P=0.016). Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) volume partially mediated the association of free testosterone with NAFLD (mediating effect 41.0%, 95% CI 22-119%). Conclusions: Increasing free testosterone is associated with prevalent NAFLD in middle age, even in women without androgen excess. Visceral adiposity appears to play an important role in the relationship between testosterone and NAFLD in women. Testosterone may provide a potential novel target for NAFLD therapeutics, and future studies in pre-menopausal women should consider the importance of testosterone as a risk factor for NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-762
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume112
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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    Sarkar, M., Wellons, M., Cedars, M. I., VanWagner, L., Gunderson, E. P., Ajmera, V., Torchen, L., Siscovick, D., Carr, J. J., Terry, J. G., Rinella, M., Lewis, C. E., & Terrault, N. (2017). Testosterone Levels in Pre-Menopausal Women are Associated With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Midlife. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 112(5), 755-762. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2017.44