Testosterone replacement therapies are controversial in males so extending it to females will likely be even more so. But research involving mice suggests an association between low levels of androgens (which includes testosterone) and atherosclerosis and obesity in females.
The researchers found the association by comparing female mice with and without the androgen receptor. They found that female mice without the androgen receptor developed obesity, high levels of fat in blood and increased atherosclerosis. They treated these female mice with androgens and body fat and atherosclerosis were reduced.
"We hope that our study will contribute to intensified research efforts on the definition of androgen deficiency in women (e.g. which levels of androgens in the blood should be considered too low?), the consequences androgen deficiency may have for women's health and ultimately, whether androgen deficient women may need androgen treatment for normalization of their androgen levels in order to maintain long-term cardiovascular and overall health," said Åsa Tivesten, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Göteborg, Sweden.
"The notion that there are 'male' and 'female' hormones is a bit too simplistic and this research really brings that to light," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Both men and women have androgen hormones--just at different levels. This report really raises the question of what levels of androgen hormones are optimal for the best health."