Predictive value of serum testosterone for type 2 diabetes risk assessment in men

Evan Atlantis, Paul Fahey, Sean Martin, Peter O'Loughlin, Anne W. Taylor, Robert J. Adams, Zumin Shi, Gary Wittert

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Background: Effective prevention of type 2 diabetes (T2D) requires early identification of high-risk individuals who might benefit from intervention. We sought to determine whether low serum testosterone, a novel risk factor for T2D in men, adds clinically meaningful information beyond current T2D risk models. Methods: The Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress (MAILES) study population consists of 2563 community-dwelling men aged 35-80 years in Adelaide, Australia. Of the MAILES participants, 2038 (80.0%) provided information at baseline (2002-2006) and follow-up (2007-2010). After excluding participants with diabetes (n=317), underweight (n=5), and unknown BMI status (n=11) at baseline and unknown diabetes status (n=50) at follow-up; 1655 participants were followed for 5years. T2D at baseline and follow-up was defined by self-reported diabetes, or fasting plasma glucose (FPG) ≥7.0mmol/L (126.1mg/dL), or glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥6.5%, or diabetes medications. Risk models were tested using logistic regression models. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values (PPV) were used to identify the optimal cut-off point for low serum testosterone for incident T2D and the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AROC) curve was used to summarise the predictive power of the model. 15.5% of men had at least one missing predictor variable addressed through multiple imputation. Results: The incidence rate of T2D was 8.9% (147/1655) over a median follow-up of 4.95years (interquartile range: 4.35-5.00). Serum testosterone level predicted incident T2D (relative risk 0.96 [95% CI: 0.92,1.00], P=0.032) independent of current risk models including the AUSDRISK, but did not improve corresponding AROC statistics. A cut-off point of <16nmol/L for low serum testosterone, which classified about 43% of men, returned equal sensitivity (61.3% [95% CI: 52.6,69.4]) and specificity (58.3% [95% CI: 55.6,60.9) for predicting T2D risk, with a PPV of 12.9% (95% CI: 10.4,15.8). Conclusions: Low serum testosterone predicts an increased risk of developing T2D in men over 5years independent of current T2D risk models applicable for use in routine clinical practice. Screening for low serum testosterone in addition to risk factors from current T2D risk assessment models or tools, including the AUSDRISK, would identify a large subgroup of distinct men who might benefit from targeted preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • Testosterone
  • Diabetes
  • Incidence
  • Screening
  • Prognosis
  • ROC
  • Cohort


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