International Health News

Testosterone and Parkinson's disease

ATLANTA, GEORGIA. Many patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) also suffer from depression, anxiety, a decreased energy level, sexual dysfunction, and an overall decline in their quality of life. In many cases these conditions cannot be treated satisfactorily with normally prescribed medications.
Researchers at Emory University now report that these comorbid conditions, at least among men, could be due to a testosterone deficiency. They describe five cases of elderly men with PD who were suffering from depression, fatigue, decreased libido, and decreased work performance. All of them had lower than normal testosterone levels. They were given testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) involving daily applications of testosterone gel. One month later they were re-evaluated and all showed marked improvement in emotional well-being, libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction, mobility, and work performance. The researchers also tested 68 other male PD patients for testosterone and found that 35 per cent of them had a deficiency (total plasma level below 325 ng/dL [11.3 nmol/L]). This compares to an average incidence of 20 to 25 per cent among males over the age of 60 years in the general population.
The researchers conclude that testosterone deficiency is more common among men with PD than among men free of the disease and that the comorbid conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.) often accompanying PD may respond favourably to testosterone replacement therapy.
Okun, Michael S., et al. Refractory Nonmotor symptoms in male patients with Parkinson disease due to testosterone deficiency. Archives of Neurology, Vol. 59, May 2002, pp. 807-11
Editor's comment: The Emory researchers also found some indication that TRT may improve the symptoms of PD itself, but concluded that the sample size was too small to say for sure. Clearly men with PD should have their testosterone levels checked and adjusted with TRT if necessary.

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