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Eur J Endocrinol. 2007 May;156(5):585-94.

In men older than 70 years, total testosterone remains stable while free testosterone declines with age. The Health in Men Study.

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School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.



An age-related decline in serum total and free testosterone concentration may contribute to ill health in men, but limited data are available for men > 70 years of age. We sought to determine the distribution and associations of reduced testosterone concentrations in older men.


The Health in Men Study is a community-representative prospective cohort investigation of 4263 men aged > or = 70 years. Cross-sectional hormone data from 3645 men were analysed.


Early morning sera were assayed for total testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and LH. Free testosterone was calculated using the Vermeulen method.


Mean (+/- s.d.) serum total testosterone was 15.4 +/- 5.6 nmol/l (444 +/- 162 ng/dl), SHBG 42.4 +/- 16.7 nmol/l and free testosterone 278 +/- 96 pmol/l (8.01 +/- 2.78 ng/dl). Total testosterone correlated with SHBG (Spearman's r = 0.6, P < 0.0001). LH and SHBG increased with age (r = 0.2, P < 0.0001 for both). Instead of declining, total testosterone increased marginally (r = 0.04, P = 0.007) whilst free testosterone declined with age (r = -0.1, P < 0.0001). Free testosterone was inversely correlated with LH (r = -0.1, P < 0.0001). In multivariate analyses, increasing age, body mass index (BMI) and LH were associated with lower free testosterone.


In men aged 70-89 years, modulation of androgen action may occur via an age-related increase in SHBG and reduction in free testosterone without a decline in total testosterone concentration. Increasing age, BMI and LH are independently associated with lower free testosterone. Further investigation would be required to assess the clinical consequences of low serum free testosterone, particularly in older men in whom total testosterone may be preserved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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