CHICAGO – according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
The findings provide more evidence of the relationship between function and lower levels of androgens such as testosterone and introduce the possibility of using hormones to offset frailty in older patients.
“The decline in total and free [testosterone] and DHEA-S [dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate] was significantly associated with small deteriorations in physical function and worsening frailty,” according to presenter Frederick C. Wu, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Manchester (England). “The present results are consistent with and support our hypothesis that the decline in these hormones can contribute to a worsening physical function and frailty in the elderly.”
Investigators gathered data on 2,278 men from eight centers across Europe to conduct an observational study of their physical functions.
Patients were all men, an average of 58 years old, and had an average body mass index of 27.6 kg/m2 and average free testosterone and DHEA-S levels at 16.9 nmol/L and 4.7 micromol/L, respectively.
At follow-up, which was on average conducted 4.4 years later, average age was 63 years, and average testosterone and DHEA-S levels had dropped to 287.3 nmol/L and 4 micromol/L respectively, which Dr. Wu described as a moderate drop.
Decreases of free testosterone or DHEA-S by one standard deviation – 86.8 nmol/L and 2.6 micromol/L, respectively – accounted for 11%-17% of the average rate of deterioration of physical function, according to Dr. Wu.