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October 2003

LE Magazine October 2003

Longitudinal assessment of serum free testosterone concentration predicts memory performance and cognitive status in elderly men.
Circulating testosterone (T) levels have behavioral and neurological effects in both human and nonhuman species. Both T concentrations and neuropsychological function decrease substantially with age in men. The purpose of this prospective, longitudinal study was to investigate the relationships between age-associated decreases in endogenous serum T and free T concentrations and declines in neuropsychological performance. Participants were volunteers from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, aged 50 to 91 years at baseline T assessment. Four hundred seven men were followed for an average of 10 years, with assessments of multiple cognitive domains and contemporaneous determination of serum total T, SHBG, and a free T index (FTI). We administered neuropsychological tests of verbal and visual memory, mental status, visuomotor scanning and attention, verbal knowledge/language, visuospatial ability and depressive symptomatology. Higher FTI was associated with better scores on visual and verbal memory, visuospatial functioning, and visuomotor scanning and a reduced rate of longitudinal decline in visual memory. Men classified as hypogonadal had significantly lower scores on measures of memory and visuospatial performance and a faster rate of decline in visual memory. No relations between total T or the FTI and measures of verbal knowledge, mental status or depressive symptoms were observed. These results suggest a possible beneficial relationship between circulating free T concentrations and specific domains of cognitive performance in older men.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Nov;87(11):5001-7

Endogenous sex hormones and cognitive function in older men.
The objective of this study was to determine whether endogenous sex hormone levels predict cognitive function in older men. Our study design was an exploratory analysis in a population-based cohort in Rancho Bernardo, California. The study participants were 547 community-dwelling men 59 to 89 years of age at baseline who were not using testosterone or estrogen therapy. Between 1984 and 1987, sera were collected for measurement of endogenous total and bioavailable testosterone and estradiol levels. Between 1988 and 1991, 12 standard neuropsychological instruments were administered, including two items from the Blessed Information-Memory-Concentration (BIMC) Test, three measures of retrieval from the Buschke-Fuld Selective Reminding Test, a category fluency test, immediate and delayed recall from the Visual Reproduction Test, the Mini-Mental State Examination with individual analysis of the Serial Sevens and the "World" Backwards components, and the Trail-Making Test Part B. In age- and education-adjusted analyses, men with higher levels of total and bioavailable estradiol had poorer scores on the BIMC Test and Mini-Mental State Examination. Men with higher levels of bioavailable testosterone had better scores on the BIMC Test and the Selective Reminding Test (long-term storage). Five associations were U-shaped: total testosterone and total and bioavailable estradiol with the BIMC Test; bioavailable testosterone with the "World" test; and total estradiol with the Trail-Making Test. All associations were relatively weak but independent of age, education, body mass index, alcohol use, cigarette smoking and depression. In these older men, low estradiol and high testosterone levels predicted better performance on several tests of cognitive function. Linear and nonlinear associations were also found, suggesting that an optimal level of sex hormones may exist for some cognitive functions.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Oct;84(10):3681-5

Testosterone influences spatial cognition in older men.
Testosterone plays a role in the organization of behavior during development. The authors examined whether testosterone could play a maintenance role in behavior as well. In a double-blind manner, verbal and visual memory, spatial cognition, motor speed, cognitive flexibility and mood in a group of healthy older men who were supplemented for three months with testosterone were assessed. The increase in testosterone levels to 150% of baseline levels resulted in a significant enhancement of spatial cognition, but no change in any other cognitive domain was found. Testosterone supplementation influenced the endogenous production of estradiol, and estradiol was found to have an inverse relationship to spatial cognitive performance. These results suggest that testosterone supplementation can modify spatial cognition in older men; however, it is likely that this occurs through testosterone's influence on estrogen.

Behav Neurosci. 1994 Apr;108(2):325-32

Testosterone supplementation improves spatial and verbal memory in healthy older men.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship between exogenous testosterone administration and cognitive abilities in a population of healthy older men. BACKGROUND: Serum levels of total and bioavailable testosterone gradually decrease with age in men and are associated with reductions in muscle mass, osteoporosis, decreased sexual activity and changes in cognition. METHODS: Twenty-five healthy, community-dwelling volunteers, aged 50 to 80 years, completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants received weekly intramuscular injections of either 100 mg testosterone enanthate or placebo (saline) for six weeks. Cognitive evaluations were conducted at baseline, week three, and week six of treatment by use of a battery of neuropsychologic tests. RESULTS: Circulating total testosterone was raised an average of 130% from baseline at week three and 116% at week six in the treatment group. Because of aromatization of testosterone, estradiol increased an average of 77% at week three and 73% at week six in the treatment group. Significant improvements in cognition were observed for spatial memory (recall of a walking route), spatial ability (block construction) and verbal memory (recall of a short story) in older men treated with testosterone compared with baseline and the placebo group, although improvements were not evident for all measures. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that short-term testosterone administration enhances cognitive function in healthy older men. However, it remains unclear whether these improvements in cognition are attributable to increased testosterone or estradiol levels, or both. The potential role of testosterone vs its metabolites on cognition requires further research.

Neurology. 2001 Jul 10;57(1):80-8

Sex steroids modify working memory.
In the last ten years, numerous mechanisms by which sex steroids modify cortical function have been described. For example, estrogen replacement improves verbal memory in women, and animal studies have shown effects of estrogen on hippocampal synaptogenesis and function. Little is known about sex steroid effects on other aspects of memory, such as frontal lobe-mediated working memory. We examined the relationships between working memory and sex steroid concentrations and whether sex steroid supplementation would modify age-related loss of working memory in older men and women. Before hormone supplementation, working memory, tested with the Subject Ordered Pointing Test (SOP), was worse in older subjects than younger subjects, and there was no evidence of gender differences at either age. Testosterone supplementation improved working memory in older men, but a similar enhancement of working memory was not found in older women supplemented with estrogen. In men, testosterone and estrogen effects were reciprocal-with better working memory related to a higher testosterone to estrogen ratio. These results suggest that sex steroids can modulate working memory in men and can act as modulators of cognition throughout life.

J Cogn Neurosci. 2000 May;12(3):407-14

Synergistic effects of estrogen with androgen on the prostate-effects of estrogen on the prostate of androgen-administered rats and 5-alpha-reductase activity.
To clarify the effects of estrogen on the prostate of androgen-treated rats, we administered estradiol (E2; 0.01 mg/day) to testosterone (T; 1 mg/day)-treated Wistar rats under various conditions. There were three variable factors: the age of the rat, the untreated period after castration, and the presence of testes. Under all conditions, E2 stimulated the growth of the prostate in T-treated rats compared with growth in rats in treated with T only. To analyze the mechanism underlying this enhancement of prostate growth by estrogen, we measured 5-alpha-reductase activity and calculated its kinetic parameters, i.e., both Vmax and Km. The Vmax of the nuclear fraction was higher in E2-administered T-treated rats than in T only-treated rats. In contrast, the Vmax of the microsomal fraction was lower in E2-administered rats. Km values in the two groups showed no significant differences. Elevation of the nuclear fraction of 5-alpha-reductase activity could explain the synergistic effects of estrogen on the prostate growth of androgen-treated rats.

Prostate. 1994 Oct;25(4):169-76

Transdermal dihydrotestosterone treatment of 'andropause'.
Male aging coincides on average with progressive impairment of testicular function. The most striking plasma changes are an increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and a decrease in non SHBG-bound testosterone, which is the only testosterone subfraction effectively bioavailable for target tissues. In healthy subjects the bioavailable testosterone declines by approximately 1% per year between 40 and 70 years but a more pronounced decline has been observed in non-healthy groups, especially in high cardiovascular risks groups. Relative androgen deficiency is likely to have unfavourable consequences on muscle, adipose tissue, bone, haematopoiesis, fibrinolysis, insulin sensitivity, central nervous system, mood and sexual function and might be treated by an appropriate androgen supplementation. The potential risk for prostate has been the main reason for limiting indications of such treatment. Testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are two potent androgens which have opposite effects regarding aromatase activity, an enzyme present in prostate stroma and suspected to have a pathogenic influence through local oestradiol synthesis. T is the main substrate for aromatase and oestradiol synthesis while DHT is not aromatizable and, at sufficient concentration, decreases T and oestradiol levels. A 1.8 years survey of 37 men aged 55 to 70 years treated with daily percutaneous DHT treatment suggested that high plasma levels of DHT (> 8.5 nmol/l) effectively induced clinical benefits while slightly but significantly reducing prostate size. Early stages of prostate hypertrophy require synergic stimulation by both DHT and oestradiol, and suppressing oestradiol instead of DHT seems easier and better adapted to the specific situation of aged hypogonadic men.

Ann Med. 1993 Jun;25(3):235-41

Antiestrogens and selective estrogen receptor modulators reduce prostate cancer risk.
The development of chemoprevention strategies against prostate cancer would have the greatest overall impact both medically and economically against prostate cancer. Estrogens are required for prostate carcinogenesis. Estrogenic stimulation through estrogen receptor alpha in a milieu of decreasing androgens contributes significantly to the genesis of benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate dysplasia and prostate cancer. The ability of antiestrogens and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) to delay and to suppress prostate carcinogenesis is supported by preclinical, clinical and epidemiological studies. SERMs have many features that make them attractive candidates for prostate cancer chemoprevention including their favorable safety profile and efficacy in preclinical prostate cancer models. The true clinical benefits of SERMs for chemoprevention to prevent prostate cancer, however, should continue to be investigated through human clinical trials. A phase IIb/III human clinical trial is currently evaluating safety and efficacy of toremifene, a SERM, in men who have high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia.

World J Urol. 2003 May;21(1):31-6. Epub 2003 Feb 14

Interaction of estrogenic chemicals and phytoestrogens with estrogen receptor beta.
The rat, mouse and human estrogen receptor (ER) exists as two subtypes, ER alpha and ER beta, which differ in the C-terminal ligand-binding domain and in the N-terminal transactivation domain. In this study, we investigated the estrogenic activity of environmental chemicals and phytoestrogens in competition binding assays with ER alpha or ER beta protein, and in a transient gene expression assay using cells in which an acute estrogenic response is created by cotransfecting cultures with recombinant human ER alpha or ER beta complementary DNA (cDNA) in the presence of an estrogen-dependent reporter plasmid. Saturation ligand-binding analysis of human ER alpha and ER beta protein revealed a single binding component for [3H]-17beta-estradiol (E2) with high affinity [dissociation constant (Kd) = 0.05 - 0.1 nM]. All environmental estrogenic chemicals [polychlorinated hydroxybiphenyls, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and derivatives, alkylphenols, bisphenol A, methoxychlor and chlordecone] compete with E2 for binding to both ER subtypes with a similar preference and degree. In most instances the relative binding affinities (RBA) are at least 1000-fold lower than that of E2. Some phytoestrogens such as coumestrol, genistein, apigenin, naringenin and kaempferol compete stronger with E2 for binding to ER beta than to ER alpha. Estrogenic chemicals, as for instance nonylphenol, bisphenol A, o, p'-DDT and 2',4',6'-trichloro-4-biphenylol stimulate the transcriptional activity of ER alpha and ER beta at concentrations of 100-1000 nM. Phytoestrogens, including genistein, coumestrol and zearalenone stimulate the transcriptional activity of both ER subtypes at concentrations of 1-10 nM. The ranking of the estrogenic potency of phytoestrogens for both ER subtypes in the transactivation assay is different; that is, E2 >> zearalenone = coumestrol > genistein > daidzein > apigenin = phloretin > biochanin A = kaempferol = naringenin > formononetin = ipriflavone = quercetin = chrysin for ER alpha and E2 >> genistein = coumestrol > zearalenone > daidzein > biochanin A = apigenin = kaempferol = naringenin > phloretin = quercetin = ipriflavone = formononetin = chrysin for ER beta. Antiestrogenic activity of the phytoestrogens could not be detected, except for zearalenone which is a full agonist for ER alpha and a mixed agonist-antagonist for ER beta. In summary, while the estrogenic potency of industrial-derived estrogenic chemicals is very limited, the estrogenic potency of phytoestrogens is significant, especially for ER beta, and they may trigger many of the biological responses that are evoked by the physiological estrogens.

Endocrinology. 1998 Oct;139(10):4252-63

Effects of heavy-resistance training on hormonal response patterns in younger vs. older men.
To examine the adaptations of the endocrine system to heavy-resistance training in younger vs. older men, two groups of men (30 and 62 year old) participated in a 10-wk periodized strength-power training program. Blood was obtained before, immediately after, and 5, 15 and 30 min after exercise at rest before and after training and at rest at -3, 0, 6 and 10 wk for analysis of total testosterone, free testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, lactate and ACTH analysis. Resting values for insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-binding protein-3 were determined before and after training. A heavy-resistance exercise test was used to evaluate the exercise-induced responses (four sets of 10-repetition maximum squats with 90 s of rest between sets). Squat strength and thigh muscle cross-sectional area increased for both groups. The younger group demonstrated higher total and free testosterone and IGF-I than the older men, training-induced increases in free testosterone at rest and with exercise, and increases in resting IGF-binding protein-3. With training the older group demonstrated a significant increase in total testosterone in response to exercise stress along with significant decreases in resting cortisol. These data indicate that older men do respond with an enhanced hormonal profile in the early phase of a resistance training program, but the response is different from that of younger men.

J Appl Physiol. 1999 Sep;87(3):982-92