Background: Circulating natriuretic peptide (NP) levels are markedly lower in healthy men than women. A relative NP deficiency in men could contribute to their higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Epidemiological studies suggest testosterone may contribute to sex-specific NP differences. Objectives: This study aimed to determine the effect of testosterone administration on NP levels using a randomized, placebo-controlled design. Methods: One hundred and fifty-one healthy men (20 to 50 years of age) received goserelin acetate to suppress endogenous production of gonadal steroids, and anastrazole to suppress conversion of testosterone to estradiol. Subjects were randomized to placebo gel or 4 different doses of testosterone (1%) gel for 12 weeks. Serum N-terminal-pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and total testosterone levels were measured at baseline and follow-up. Results: Men who did not receive testosterone replacement (placebo gel group) after suppression of endogenous gonadal steroid production experienced a profound decrease in serum testosterone (median 540 to 36 ng/dl; p < 0.0001). This was accompanied by an increase in median NT-proBNP (+8 pg/ml; p = 0.02). Each 1-g increase in testosterone dose was associated with a 4.3% lower NT-proBNP at follow-up (95% confidence interval: −7.9% to −0.45%; p = 0.029). An individual whose serum testosterone decreased by 500 ng/dl had a 26% higher predicted follow-up NT-proBNP than someone whose serum testosterone remained constant. Conclusions: Suppression of testosterone production in men led to increases in circulating NT-proBNP, which were attenuated by testosterone replacement. Inhibition of NP production by testosterone may partly explain the lower NP levels in men.
- cardiovascular risk
- natriuretic peptide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine