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21 December 2006
Alzheimer's Tackled With Testosterone
by George Atkinson

Experiments with mice suggest that the progression of Alzheimer's disease might be slowed using testosterone therapy. The findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, indicate that testosterone-based hormone therapy may one day be useful in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease in aging men.

"We've known that low testosterone is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease but now we know why," said study leader Christian Pike, from the University of Southern California (USC). "The implication for humans is that testosterone therapy might one day be able to block the development of the disease."

To investigate testosterone's role in the development of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers conducted an experiment which removed the ability of male mice to produce testosterone. Some of the mice were then given a form of testosterone while others in a control group were given none.

The mice with lowered testosterone showed increases in levels of the protein beta-amyloid, which has been widely implicated as playing a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Tellingly, they also showed signs of behavioral impairment. The mice that were given testosterone, however, showed reduced accumulation of beta-amyloid and less behavioral impairment. "These results are exciting because they tell us that we are on to something that is worth pursuing," said Pike. "The next step is to look at what the long term effects of testosterone therapy are in aging men."

Other studies have suggested that testosterone may be useful in treating a range of neurological conditions. In a presentation at a Society of Neuroscience meeting, another USC researcher reported that testosterone therapy improved muscle coordination in mice suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Based on material from the University of Southern California

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