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19 December 2005
Men With Alzheimer's Show Benefits From Testosterone Therapy
by George Atkinson

A study in the Archives of Neurology suggests that testosterone replacement therapy may help improve the quality of life for elderly men with Alzheimer's disease. Conducted by neuroscientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Alzheimer Disease Research Center, the study relied on caregiver assessments to evaluate quality of life and also used a number of tests administrated by clinicians to evaluate cognitive skills. Interestingly, while the caregivers reported noticeable improvements in the men, the cognitive tests administered by the researchers did not show any substantial change.

Researchers studying Alzheimer's disease have become increasingly interested in hormonal therapies since male aging is associated with a gradual decline in testosterone levels. "The gradual decline in testosterone level is associated with decreased muscle mass and strength, osteoporosis, decreased libido, mood alterations, and changes in cognition, conditions that may be reversed with testosterone replacement," explained UCLA researcher Po H. Lu.

He added that the age-related decline in testosterone is potentially relevant to Alzheimer's disease as previous studies have found significantly lower concentrations of the hormone in middle-aged and elderly men who developed Alzheimer's disease.

According to the caregivers, the men treated with testosterone showed significant improvement on a quality-of-life scale that encompassed memory, interpersonal relationships, physical health, energy, living situation and overall well-being. But puzzlingly, the researchers found no significant differences in memory or other cognitive skills as assessed by the tests.

"For the patients with Alzheimer's disease, the testosterone-treated group had significantly greater improvements in the scores on the caregiver version of the quality-of-life scale," the researchers concluded. But the lack of positive evidence from the cognitive tests prompted some caution. "The present results should be considered preliminary… Future studies with larger sample sizes are needed before clinical decisions regarding testosterone therapy can be rationally based. For men with compromised quality of life… and who suffer from low serum T [testosterone] levels, testosterone therapy may be a reasonable consideration."

Based on material from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences




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