Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and Sex Steroids Among Premenopausal Women in the Diabetes Prevention Program

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It is unknown whether intensive lifestyle modification (ILS) or metformin changes sex steroids among premenopausal women without a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).


We examined 1-year intervention impact on sex steroids (estradiol, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and androstenedione [A4]) and SHBG and differences by race/ethnicity.


A subgroup of Diabetes Prevention Program participants who were premenopausal, not using estrogen, without a history of PCOS or irregular menses, and who reported non-Hispanic white (NHW), Hispanic, or African-American race/ethnicity (n = 301).


Randomization arms were 1) ILS with the goals of weight reduction of 7% of initial weight and 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, 2) metformin 850 mg twice a day, or 3) placebo.


Neither intervention changed sex steroids compared to placebo. ILS, but not metformin, increased median SHBG by 3.1 nmol/L (∼11%) compared to decreases of 1.1 nmol/L in the placebo arm (P < .05). This comparison remained significant after adjustment for changes in covariates including waist circumference. However, associations with glucose were not significant. Median baseline A4 was lower in Hispanics compared to NHWs (5.7 nmol/L vs 6.5 nmol/L, P < .05) and increases in A4 were greater in Hispanics compared to NHWs (3.0 nmol/ vs 1.2 nmol/L, P < .05), and these differences did not differ significantly by intervention arm. No other racial/ethnic differences were significant.


Among premenopausal glucose-intolerant women, no intervention changed sex steroids. ILS increased SHBG, although associations with glucose were not significant. SHBG and sex steroids were similar by race/ethnicity, with the possible exception of lower baseline A4 levels in Hispanics compared to NHWs.

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