A smart way of using testosterone to prevent muscle wasting

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on January 5th, 2018

Public release date: 30-Jul-2013 [ | E-mail | Share ]

Contact: Alison Heather a.heather@garvan.org.au 61-292-958-128 Garvan Institute of Medical Research

New Australian research suggests that a small dose of testosterone directed solely to the liver stimulates protein synthesis, likely preventing muscle loss and wasting, and potentially promoting muscle growth. The researchers believe they have developed a safe and effective treatment for men and women, that could prevent the muscle wasting associated with many chronic diseases and with ageing.

Dr Vita Birzniece and Professor Ken Ho, from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, showed in healthy postmenopausal women that a small dose of the male hormone testosterone prevented protein wasting. The pure crystalline testosterone, taken orally, went straight to the liver, and the dose (40mg/day) was small enough to ensure it was contained there, with no spillover to the bloodstream and other organs. The findings are now published online in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

This new approach allows people to benefit from testosterone's ability to stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle strength. At the same time, it sidesteps the side effects of testosterone when given in the usual way administered in much larger doses by injection, gel or patch through the skin.

When testosterone is injected, it goes directly to peripheral tissues and major organs, including the brain. This can cause unwanted side effects, including aggressive behaviour and heightened libido. It can also cause heart damage, and in women induce facial hair and a deeper voice.

When taken orally in a small dose, it is absorbed through the gut and goes straight to and acts on the liver, where it is also broken down, so that no other tissue or organ is exposed.

"The novel aspect of this research is that only the liver gets tickled with testosterone. It is a new way of using an old hormone," said Professor Ken Ho.

"This is a great advantage because it avoids the unpleasant behavioural effects of high doses of testosterone injected into the bloodstream and the masculinising effects in women."

"We saw that low dose testosterone, taken orally, had the same magnitude of effect on whole body protein metabolism as when it is injected in larger doses in men," added Dr Vita Birzniece.

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A smart way of using testosterone to prevent muscle wasting

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