Testosterone May Slow Alzheimer's
Early Tests on Mice Suggest Testosterone Slows Buildup of Plaque in Brain
Dec. 19, 2006 -- The sex hormone testosterone may help guard against Alzheimer's disease,
based on lab tests in mice.
That's according to a study published in The Journal of
The study focused on male mice, not people. So it's too soon for scientists
to recommend testosterone therapy to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease in
But that possibility deserves further study, write Christian Pike, PhD, and
colleagues. Pike is an associate professor at the University of Southern
California's Davis School of Gerontology.
"The implication for humans is that testosterone therapy might one day
be able to block the development of the disease," Pike says in a University
of Southern California news release.
It's normal for testosterone levels to fall with age, but it's not clear if
that process makes Alzheimer's more likely.
"The next step is to look at what the long-term effects of testosterone
therapy are in aging men," Pike says.
Testosterone is most abundant in males, although females also have the
In their study, Pike's team looked at male mice with genes that made them
very likely to get Alzheimer's disease. The researchers removed the gonads of
some of the mice. As a result, those mice could no longer make
For comparison, the scientists left the other mice intact.
The mice that couldn't make testosterone developed more brain plaque, a
hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Those mice also had more trouble in a maze
The researchers then inserted testosterone-releasing pellets under the skin
of the testosterone-deprived mice. That slowed the mice's behavioral problems
and the build up of brain plaque.
"These results are exciting because they tell us that we are on to
something that is worth pursuing," Pike says.
However, it's not clear whether the findings would apply to people.
Also, Pike's team didn't give testosterone to female mice or to male mice
with normal testosterone levels.