Overfeeding-induced weight gain elicits decreases in sex hormone-binding globulin in healthy males—Implications for body fat distribution

Prachi Singh, Naima Covassin, Fatima H. Sert-Kuniyoshi, Kara L. Marlatt, Abel Romero-Corral, Diane E. Davison, Ravinder J. Singh, Michael D. Jensen, Virend K. Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Obesity and upper-body fat elevates cardiometabolic risk. However, mechanisms predisposing to upper-body fat accumulation are not completely understood. In males, low testosterone (T) frequently associates with obesity, and estrogen deficiency may contribute to upper-body adiposity. This study examines the effects of overfeeding-induced weight gain on changes in gonadal hormones in healthy males and its association with regional fat depots. Methods: Twenty-five males (age: 29.7 ± 6.9 years; BMI: 24.7 ± 3.1 kg/m2) were overfed for 8 weeks to gain approximately 5% body weight. Changes in total and regional fat depots were assessed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and abdominal computed tomography scans. Circulating T, estrone (E1), 17-β estradiol (E2), and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations were measured at baseline and after weight gain. Results: Overfeeding resulted in 3.8 (3.3, 4.9) kg weight gain with increased total body fat. Weight gain did not alter circulating T (p = 0.82), E1 (p = 0.52), or E2 (p = 0.28). However, SHBG decreased (p = 0.04) along with consequent increases in T/SHBG (p = 0.02) and E2/SHBG (p = 0.03) ratios. Importantly, baseline E2/SHBG ratio was inversely associated with increases in upper-body fat mass (ρ = −0.43, p = 0.03). Conclusions: Modest weight gain does not alter circulating gonadal hormones in males but may increase bioavailability of T and E2 via decreases in SHBG. The association between baseline E2/SHBG and regional fat mass suggests that higher levels of bioavailable E2 may protect from upper-body fat accumulation during overfeeding-induced modest weight gain in healthy males. Our study suggests a complex relationship between adipose tissue, gonadal hormones, and fat accumulation in males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15127
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • estrogen
  • regional fat distribution
  • sex hormone-binding globulin
  • testosterone
  • weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Overfeeding-induced weight gain elicits decreases in sex hormone-binding globulin in healthy males—Implications for body fat distribution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this