Lipid profiles and hypertriglyceridemia among transgender and gender diverse adults on gender-affirming hormone therapy

Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Mabel Kyinn, Katherine Banks, Eleanor Sarkodie, Deborah Goldstein, Michael S. Irwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The effects of gender-affirming hormone therapy on lipid profiles among transgender adults have been inconsistent and incompletely characterized. 

Objective: To longitudinally assess changes to lipid profiles following hormone therapy and to establish prevalence rates of hyperlipidemia/low HDL-cholesterol.

Methods: This longitudinal study followed lipid profiles of 366 transgender and gender-diverse adult patients (170 transfeminine and 196 transmasculine; mean age, 28 years) in Washington DC USA. Lipid profiles were measured at baseline and at multiple follow-up clinical visits up to 57 months after the initiation of hormone therapy. 

Results: Within 2–10 months of starting gender-affirming hormone therapy, mean levels of HDL-cholesterol decreased by 16% in transmasculine individuals and increased by 11% in transfeminine individuals. Over the study, mean triglyceride levels increased by 26–37% in the transmasculine group. Over the study, the prevalence of moderate hypertriglyceridemia (175–499 mg/dL) ranged from 11 to 32% in the transfeminine group and 6–19% in the transmasculine group. Severe hypertriglyceridemia (≥500 mg/dL) was only observed in one individual. On hormone therapy, 24–30% of the transfeminine group had a HDL-cholesterol < 50 mg/dL and 16–24% of the transmasculine group had a HDL-cholesterol < 40 mg/dL. LDL-cholesterol levels ≥160 mg/dL were rare among both groups. 

Conclusions: In a gender-diverse population on hormone therapy, low HDL-cholesterol and moderate hypertriglyceridemia were relatively common. HDL-cholesterol decreased with testosterone therapy and increased with a combination of oral estrogen and spironolactone. Testosterone use was associated with an increase in triglycerides. Our data support the recommendation to routinely monitor lipid profiles in gender-diverse patients on GAHT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Lipidology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Cholesterol
  • Estrogen
  • Hormone therapy
  • Lipid
  • Testosterone
  • Transgender
  • Triglycerides


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