The Effects of Aging in Normal Men on Bioavailable Testosterone: Response to Clomiphene Citrate

Serum testosterone (T) levels in men decline with age while serum LH levels, as measured by RIA, increase. To assess if the decline in serum T levels in healthy aging men is paralleled by an age-related decline in the bioavailable nonsex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)-bound fraction of T and to determine whether there are age-related changes in LH secretion or LH control of T production, we studied 29 young (aged 22–35 yr) and 26 elderly (aged 65–84 yr) healthy men. All men had single random blood samples drawn, and 14 men in each age group underwent frequent blood sampling for 24 h, both before and after 7 days of clomiphene citrate (CC) administration.

Both mean 24-h serum total T levels and non-SHBG-bound T were reduced in elderly men compared to those in young men (P < 0.05), while estradiol and SHBG levels were similar in the 2 age groups. Serum FSH determined by RIA and LH by RIA and bioassay were higher in the elderly men compared to those in young men (P < 0.05), but the ratios of LH bioactivity to immunoreactivity and the LH pulse frequency and amplitude were similar.

After CC administration, mean serum total T and non-SHBG-bound levels in young men increased by 100% and 304%, respectively, while in older men these values increased by only 32% and 8%, respectively.

However, CC-stimulated LH pulse characteristics and serum levels of estradiol, SHBG, FSH, and bioactive and immunoreactive LH were similar in the 2 groups.

Thus, both at baseline and after CC stimulation, elderly men had significantly lower serum total T and non-SHBG-bound (bioavailable) T levels than did young men, despite similar or increased levels of bioactive LH and similar bioactive to immunoreactive LH ratios and LH pulse characteristics.

These results suggest that major age-related changes in the hypothalamicpituitary-testicular axis occur at the level of the testes and are manifested by decreased responsiveness to bioactive LH. Administration of CC to young and elderly men resulted in similar changes in LH pulse characteristics and LH bioactivity and immunoreactivity, suggesting preserved hypothalamic-pituitary responsiveness in the elderly.

JOYCE S. TENOVER,ALVIN M. MATSUMOTO,STEPHEN R. PLYMATE,WILLIAM J. BREMNER, "The effects of ageing in normal men on bioavailable testosterone: Response to clomiphene citrate." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 65, Issue 6, 1 December 1987, Pages 1118–1126.

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