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Testosterone may help men with multiple sclerosis

A small pilot study suggests that testosterone treatment is safe, well tolerated and may reduce symptoms, slow brain degeneration and increase muscle mass in men with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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, according to background information in the article. This is especially true during reproductive years. Sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, may be responsible for the difference. Testosterone has been shown to protect against an MSlike condition and other autoimmune diseases in animals.

Nancy L. Sicotte, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a study of testosterone treatment in 10 men with relapsing-remitting MS, characterized by periods of neurologic symptoms (such as numbness or difficulty walking) followed by periods of remission. The men, who had an average age of 46, were enrolled in the study and then entered a six-month pre-treatment phase, during which symptoms were monitored but no therapies were administered. Then, each man applied 10 grams of a gel containing 100 milligrams of testosterone to his upper arms once daily for 12 months.

"One year of treatment with testosterone gel was associated with improvement in cognitive performance and a slowing of brain atrophy [deterioration]," the authors write. During the first nine months of the studythe period of time before the men began taking testosterone, plus the first three months of treatment, before it had time to take effectbrain volume decreased an average of -0.81 percent per year. In the second nine months, this decline slowed by 67 percent to an
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
310-794-2265
JAMA and Archives Journals
14-May-2007


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