Association between endogenous sex steroid hormones and inflammatory biomarkers in US men

K. K. Tsilidis, S. Rohrmann, K. A. Mcglynn, S. J. Nyante, D. S. Lopez, G. Bradwin, M. Feinleib, C. E. Joshu, N. Kanarek, W. G. Nelson, E. Selvin, E. A. Platz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Sex steroid hormones and inflammatory biomarkers are both associated with the development and progression of chronic diseases, but their interrelationship is relatively uncharacterized. We examined the association of sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) with biomarkers of inflammation, C-reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell (WBC) count. The study included data from 809 adult men in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Geometric means and 95% confidence intervals were estimated separately for CRP and WBC concentrations by sex steroid hormones and SHBG using weighted linear regression models. Higher concentrations of total (slope per one quintile in concentration, -0.18; p-trend, 0.001) and calculated free (slope, -0.13; p-trend, 0.03) testosterone were statistically significantly associated with lower concentrations of CRP, but not with WBC count. Men in the bottom quintile of total testosterone (≤3.3 ng/mL), who might be considered to have clinically low testosterone, were more likely to have elevated CRP (≥3 mg/L) compared with men in the top four quintiles (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.00-2.61). Total and calculated free estradiol (E2) were positively associated with both CRP (Total E2: slope, 0.14; p-trend, <0.001; Free E2: slope, 0.15; p-trend, <0.001) and WBC (Total E2: slope, 0.02; p-trend, 0.08; Free E2: slope, 0.02; p-trend, 0.02) concentrations. SHBG concentrations were inversely associated with WBC count (slope, -0.03; p-trend, 0.04), but not with CRP. These cross-sectional findings are consistent with the hypothesis that higher androgen and lower oestrogen concentrations may have an anti-inflammatory effect in men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-928
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • C-reactive protein
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Estradiol
  • Testosterone
  • White blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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