Testosterone is the main male sex hormone and is essential for the maintenance of male secondary sexual characteristics and fertility. Androgen deficiency in young men owing to organic disease of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or testes has been treated with testosterone replacement for decades without reports of increased cardiovascular events. In the past decade, the number of testosterone prescriptions issued for middle-aged or older men with either age-related or obesity-related decline in serum testosterone levels has increased exponentially even though these conditions are not approved indications for testosterone therapy. Some retrospective studies and randomized trials have suggested that testosterone replacement therapy increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which has led the FDA to release a warning statement about the potential cardiovascular risks of testosterone replacement therapy. However, no trials of testosterone replacement therapy published to date were designed or adequately powered to assess cardiovascular events; therefore, the cardiovascular safety of this therapy remains unclear. In this Review, we provide an overview of epidemiological data on the association between serum levels of endogenous testosterone and cardiovascular disease, prescription database studies on the risk of cardiovascular disease in men receiving testosterone therapy, randomized trials and meta-analyses evaluating testosterone replacement therapy and its association with cardiovascular events and mechanistic studies on the effects of testosterone on the cardiovascular system. Our aim is to help clinicians to make informed decisions when considering testosterone replacement therapy in their patients.
Nature reviews. Cardiology. 2019 May 23 [Epub ahead of print]
Thiago Gagliano-Jucá, Shehzad Basaria
Research Program in Men's Health: Aging and Metabolism, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA., Research Program in Men's Health: Aging and Metabolism, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. .