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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Feb;95(2):639-50. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-1251. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Effects of testosterone on muscle strength, physical function, body composition, and quality of life in intermediate-frail and frail elderly men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Andrology Research Unit, Department of Medicine and Endocrinology, University of Manchester, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Grafton Street, Manchester, United Kingdom M13 9WL.



Physical frailty is associated with reduced muscle strength, impaired physical function, and quality of life. Testosterone (T) increases muscle mass and strength in hypogonadal patients. It is unclear whether T has similar effects in intermediate-frail and frail elderly men with low to borderline-low T.


Our objective was to determine the effects of 6 months T treatment in intermediate-frail and frail elderly men, on muscle mass and strength, physical function, and quality of life.


We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, single-center study.


PARTICIPANTS were community-dwelling intermediate-frail and frail elderly men at least 65 yr of age with a total T at or below 12 nmol/liter or free T at or below 250 pmol/liter.


Two hundred seventy-four participants were randomized to transdermal T (50 mg/d) or placebo gel for 6 months. Outcome measures included muscle strength, lean and fat mass, physical function, and self-reported quality of life.


Isometric knee extension peak torque improved in the T group (vs. placebo at 6 months), adjusted difference was 8.6 (95% confidence interval, 1.3-16.0; P = 0.02) Newton-meters. Lean body mass increased and fat mass decreased significantly in the T group by 1.08 +/- 1.8 and 0.9 +/- 1.6 kg, respectively. Physical function improved among older and frailer men. Somatic and sexual symptom scores decreased with T treatment; adjusted difference was -1.2 (-2.4 to -0.04) and -1.3 (-2.5 to -0.2), respectively.


T treatment in intermediate-frail and frail elderly men with low to borderline-low T for 6 months may prevent age-associated loss of lower limb muscle strength and improve body composition, quality of life, and physical function. Further investigations are warranted to extend these results.

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