The aging process is accompanied by significant changes in body composition characterized by decreased fat free mass and increased and redistributed fat mass. Muscle loss results from the atrophy of muscle fibers and decreased synthesis of muscle proteins. Increased number of adipocytes and fat accumulation in non-adipose tissue leads to adiposity. These changes can impose functional limitations and increase morbidity. In men, declining testosterone levels that occur with aging can be a contributing factor to these changes. Studies in hypogonadal men have shown that testosterone replacement is effective in increasing muscle mass and strength and decreasing fat mass. The molecular mechanisms of testosterone's influence on muscle and adipose are not fully elucidated. However, testosterone appears to stimulate IGF-1 expression directly and indirectly leading to increased muscle protein synthesis and growth. It may also counter the inhibitory effects of myostatin, cytokines, and glucocorticoids. The predominant effects of testosterone on fat mass are increased lipolysis and decreased adipogenesis. Current evidence suggests that testosterone replacement may be effective in reversing age-dependent body composition changes and associated morbidity. However, hypogonadism must be diagnosed carefully, and therapy should be monitored regularly in order to avoid the adverse effects associated with testosterone supplementation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology