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Testosterone may help men with multiple sclerosis

Close on the heels of a large-scale clinical trial just underway to confirm that the female hormone estriol combats the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) in women, a just completed pilot study at UCLA now shows promise for the use of testosterone to combat its effects in men.

Reporting in the May issue of the journal Archives of Neurology, Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, the director of UCLAs Multiple Sclerosis Program, and her colleagues have found that the application of a testosterone gel for men with MS reduced symptoms, slowed brain degeneration and increased muscle mass in men with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease involving the immune and central nervous systems. MS and many other autoimmune diseases (in which the body attacks its own systems or tissues) are less common in men than in women, said Voskuhl, at a ratio of about three women to one man. Voskuhl has long thought that sex hormones and/or sex chromosomes may be responsible for this enhanced susceptibility. And testosterone has been shown to protect against an MS-like condition in animals.

Voskuhl and Dr. Nancy L. Sicotte, an assistant professor of neurology, conducted a study of testosterone treatment in 10 men with relapsing-remitting MS, which is characterized by periods of neurologic symptoms, such as numbness or difficulty walking, followed by periods of remission. After enrollment in the study, the men, average age 46, entered a six-month pre-treatment phase, during which symptoms were monitored but no therapies were administered. After that, each man applied 10 grams of a gel containing 100 milligrams of testosterone to his upper arms once daily for 12 months.

"After a year we saw an improvement in cognitive performance and a slowing of brain deterioration, said Voskuhl. During the first nine months of the study, the mens symptoms were simply monitored, then followed by just t
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
14-May-2007


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