Testosterone replacement improves muscle strength, function in HIV-infected women

nd function, an observation not previously documented in any study of HIV-infected women.

After the 6-month study period, which 52 participants completed, those who received testosterone patches were found to have significantly higher levels of the hormone, most returning to normal levels. Testosterone levels for the placebo group remained below normal or at the low end of the normal range. Although there were no significant changes in weight in either group the groups, the testosterone group had somewhat increased muscle mass.

In the tests of muscle strength and function, the group receiving testosterone showed significant improvement compared with measurements taken before the study. Placebo groups members, in contrast, lost both strength and muscle function during the study period. None of the study participants reported such potential side effects of testosterone treatment as alterations in their hair, skin or voice or any related metabolic changes.

"Although natural testosterone delivery products like the patches used in this study are not currently being marketed, they are in development at several pharmaceutical companies. When they do become available, it may be reasonable for physicians treating HIV-infected women to test patients' testosterone levels and attempt to restore levels that are reduced, says Grinspoon, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Grinspoon stresses that this therapy would only be appropriate for patients with documented low testosterone, who should be closely monitored during treatment. He and his colleagues are looking into longer-terms effects of testosterone replacement on muscles and bones. They also note that testosterone-replacement treatment should be studied for other groups of women with weight loss associated with serious illness.

The study's co-authors are first author Sara Dolan, NP, Stephanie Wilkie, NP, Negar Aliabadi and Meghan P. Sullivan, all

Contact: Sue McGreevey
Massachusetts General Hospital

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