BACKGROUND: Testicular function, including compensated Leydig cell function, has been indicated to be an early marker of morbidity.
OBJECTIVE: To study the association of testicular function and markers of metabolic and cardiovascular health in a population of young men.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 2289 men (median age 19 years, 5-95 percentile 18.4-22.2) from the general population examined between 2012 and 2019. Participants answered a questionnaire, had a blood sample drawn for assessment of reproductive hormone levels and health markers (lipids, glycosylated hemoglobin), delivered a semen sample, underwent physical examination including blood pressure measurements, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan for assessment of body composition. Associations were assessed in both crude and adjusted linear regression analyses.
RESULTS: The men were within the normal reference intervals of their age for reproductive and health biomarkers. Compared to the lowest quartile, having luteinizing hormone levels in the highest quartile was associated with higher mean arterial pressure (1.6 [95% confidence interval: 0.8; 2.5] mmHg), cholesterol (0.1 [95% confidence interval: 0.02; 0.18] mmol/L), and total body fat percentage (1.1 [95% confidence interval: 0.4; 1.8] %-points). Higher serum testosterone levels were associated with more advantageous cardiometabolic health markers and higher total sperm count with a healthier body composition and lower glycosylated hemoglobin.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: In this study of young men, unselected regarding reproductive hormones and semen quality, higher luteinizing hormone was associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Higher testosterone and total sperm count were associated with more favorable cardiometabolic indices. Thus, serum reproductive hormones and semen quality may be early appearing biomarkers of cardiovascular health even among young healthy men, which could potentially be useful for preventive initiatives to reduce the excess mortality and morbidity risk among infertile men. However, our study was cross-sectional and cannot determine causation. Future longitudinal studies of reproductive health in young men are warranted.