BY WILLIAM LLEWELLYN
Clinical studies supporting a health-protective role of testosterone in aging men are growing in number. This latest study examines the relationship between the serum bioavailable testosterone level and calcification within the arteries. Calcification, or the placement of calcium deposits along the artery lining, is an indicator of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This change shows up easily during CT scan, which facilitates data collection. The men studied for this paper did not have any apparent history of cardiovascular or metabolic disease. Therefore, this group may better represent an average healthy male population, many of whom may not know they are developing atherosclerosis.
This study involved 291 non-obese male participants, with an average age of 52 years. Biomarkers measured included total testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, bioavailable testosterone, free testosterone, and coronary calcium score. After controlling for age, body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise status, blood pressure, heart rate, C-reactive protein, fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, hypertension medication, and hyperlipidemia medication(s), only a strong (inverse) relationship remained between bioavailable testosterone and the concentration of calcium within the arteries.
In this study, higher bioavailable testosterone was associated with less calcium deposited within the arteries, and thus a lower risk of developing atherosclerosis. More research is needed to determine the exact nature of any protective role bioavailable testosterone may have with regard to artery calcification, and further, how long-term testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may improve the CVD risks of otherwise healthy aging men. At this point, however, it can be said that the positive data on testosterone and the aging male heart has been highly consistent. All clinicians that deal with male patients should be taking note of these studies.
Source: Inverse relationship between bioavailable testosterone and subclinical coronary artery calcification in non-obese Korean men. Park BJ, Shim JY, Lee YJ, Lee JH, Lee HR. Asian J Androl. 2012 Apr 23. doi: 10.1038/aja.2012.19.