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Rev Med Chil. 2006 Sep;134(9):1123-8. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

[Assessment of androgenic decline in the elderly].

[Article in Spanish]

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Departamento de Endocrinología y Servicio de Laboratorios Clínicos, Escuela de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.



The gold standard to assess androgenic status is the measurement of free testosterone by equilibrium dialysis. However, the estimation of free testosterone using formulas based on the law of mass action can be an adequate standard.


To assess androgenic decline in the elderly by different methods.


Free testosterone by radioimmunoassay, total testosterone and steroid binding globulin (SHBG) by automated chemiluminiscence system and estradiol by automated electrochemiluminiscence system were measured in 30 male aged 64+/-5 years (range 60-70), and 25 males aged between 20 and 30 years, as control group; devoid of diseases or drugs that could cause hypogonadism. Free androgen index, free testosterone, biavailable testosterone, and free estradiol were calculated using a formula based on the law of mass action.


Fifty seven percent of elderly subjects had hypogonadism, according to calculated free testosterone values. Their total testosterone was on average, 152 nd/dl lower than in young adults, figure that represents a 3.8 ng/dl decline per year. According to total testosterone values, 27% of elderly males had gonadal incompetence. The correlations between calculated free testosterone and total testosterone was 0,95 and between calculated free testosterone and measured free testosterone was 0,67. The methods employed overestimated (76.7% of hypogonadism when using the free androgen index) or underestimated (27 and 3% of hypogonadism, considering total or free testosterone, respectively) the ondrogen decline of the elderly. Among the elderly, 16 or 30% of subjects had an absolute hypoestrogenism, based on estradiol or calculated free estradiol values, respectively. On average there was a 20 and 30% reduction of estradiol and calculated free estradiol values in the elderly.


Calculated free or bioavailable testosterone values should be used to assess androgen decline in elderly men.

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