Testosterone May Ease Alzheimer's

Testosterone Therapy Improves Quality of Life in Men With Alzheimer's

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 12, 2005
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 12, 2005 -- A daily dose of testosterone may ease the burden of Alzheimer's disease and improve the quality of life for men with the devastating disease.

A new study shows testosterone replacement therapy improved the mood, overall well-being, and personal relationships of men with Alzheimer's disease. However, no improvements in memory or other thinking skills were associated with the treatment.

Alzheimer's disease affects about 4 million Americans and causes memory loss as well as behavior changes and difficulty thinking.

Alzheimer's disease is an age-related disorder, and researchers say the gradual loss of testosterone men experience as they get older may play a role in the progression of the disease. But they say this is the first study to look at the effects of testosterone replacement therapy on mood, behavior, and psychological health of men with Alzheimer's disease.

"The results suggest that testosterone replacement therapy holds potential for improving quality of life of Alzheimer patients and merits further testing with a larger group of patients and with a longer treatment period," says Po H. Lu, PsyD, assistant clinical professor of neurology at UCLA's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, in a news release.

The results were released online today in advance of their scheduled February 2006 publication in the Archives of Neurology.

Testosterone May Boost Men's Moods

In the study, researchers compared the effects of testosterone replacement therapy vs. placebo in 16 elderly men with mild Alzheimer's disease and 22 healthy elderly men.

All of the men received a 75-milligram dose of testosterone gel, which was applied to the skin, or a placebo gel once a day.

After six months of treatment, caregivers of the men with Alzheimer's disease reported an improvement in the overall quality of life of the men, while those on the placebo experienced a significant decline. Healthy men on testosterone therapy also reported a slight improvement in their quality of life.

Quality of life measures included interpersonal relationships, physical health, energy, living situation, and overall well-being.

Clinical tests showed the testosterone replacement therapy was not associated with any improvements in the memory or thinking skills of the men with Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers say previous studies have shown that the gradual decline in testosterone that men experience with age leads to changes in mood and difficulty thinking that can be reversed with testosterone replacement therapy. In addition, studies have shown that middle-aged and elderly men with Alzheimer's disease had lower concentrations of testosterone than healthy men.

Therefore, they say these results suggest that testosterone replacement therapy may offer a new way to improve the quality of life in men with Alzheimer's disease and deserves further research.

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SOURCES: Lu, P. Archives of Neurology, February 2006 advance online publication; vol 63: pp 1-9. News release, Alzheimer Disease Research Center at UCLA. News release, American Medical Association.
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