Aim: To quantify the effects of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) on components of the metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.
Methods: Comprehensive searches of electronic databases were performed from April 1966 to October 2004. We included randomized controlled trials that were of at least 8 weeks duration and evaluated the effect of HRT on metabolic, inflammatory or thrombotic components. Insulin resistance was calculated by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR). Subgroup analysis evaluated the effects for transdermal and oral treatment and for diabetic and non-diabetic women.
Results: Pooled results of 107 trials showed that HRT reduced abdominal fat [−6.8% (CI, −11.8 to −1.9%)], HOMA-IR [−12.9% (CI, −17.1 to −8.6%)] and new-onset diabetes [relative risk 0.7 (CI, 0.6–0.9)] in women without diabetes. In women with diabetes, HRT reduced fasting glucose [−11.5% (CI, −18.0 to −5.1%)] and HOMA-IR [−35.8% (CI, −51.7 to −19.8%)]. HRT also reduced low-density lipoprotein/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio [−15.7% (CI, −18.0 to −13.5%)], lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] [−25.0% [CI, −32.9 to −17.1%)], mean blood pressure [−1.7% (CI, −2.9 to −0.5%)], E-selectin [−17.3% (CI, −22.4 to −12.1%)], fibrinogen [−5.5% (CI, −7.8 to −3.2%)] and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 [−25.1% (CI, −33.6 to −15.5%)]. Oral agents produced larger beneficial effects than transdermal agents, but increased C-reactive protein (CRP) [37.6% (CI, 17.4–61.3%)] and decreased protein S [−8.6% CI, −13.1 to −4.1%)], while transdermal agents had no effect.
Conclusions: HRT reduces abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, new-onset diabetes, lipids, blood pressure, adhesion molecules and procoagulant factors in women without diabetes and reduced insulin resistance and fasting glucose in women with diabetes. Oral agents adversely affected CRP and protein S, while transdermal agents had no effects.