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Low free testosterone levels linked to Alzheimer's disease in older men

Older men with lower levels of free, or unbound, testosterone circulating in their bloodstreams could be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) than their peers, according to new research. This prospective observational study is believed to be the first to associate low circulating blood levels of free testosterone with AD years before diagnosis.

The study appears in the January 27, 2004 issue of the journal Neurology. This work was conducted by investigators at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the National Institutes of Health, and scientists at other institutions supported by NIA grants.* "Our finding that low free testosterone might be associated with an increased risk of developing of AD is a step forward in helping to understand the possible effects of sex hormones on the aging brain and other parts of the body," said Susan Resnick, Ph.D., an investigator in the NIA's Laboratory of Personality and Cognition and corresponding author of the study.

Dr. Resnick, however, cautions that much more research is needed before scientists can establish a causal relationship between low testosterone and AD. "Even if a relationship between AD and levels of free testosterone in the bloodstream is confirmed, we are very far away from knowing if hormonal therapy or any other intervention could safely prevent AD," she said.

Dr. Resnick, Scott Moffat, Ph.D., and their colleagues evaluated the testosterone levels of 574 men, ages 32 to 87, who participated in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA)**. The investigators examined free and total testosterone levels-measured over an average of 19 years-in relationship to subsequent diagnosis of AD. Based on physical, neurological and neuropsychological exams, 54 of the 574 men were diagnosed with AD.

The research team found that for every 50 percent increase in the free testosterone index in the bloodstream, there was about a 26 percent decrease in the risk of develop
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Contact: Doug Dollemore
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
28-Jan-2004


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