Context: The physiological importance of endogenous testosterone (T) in older women is poorly understood. Objective: The aim of the study was to determine the association of higher total and free T levels with bone mineral density (BMD), lean body mass, and fat mass in elderly women. Design: Total and free T were measured using sensitive assays in 232 community-dwelling women aged 67-94 yr who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study and had dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans. Cross-sectional analyses were performed to examine associations between total and free T and BMD and body composition. Results: In adjusted models, total T was directly associated withBMDat the lumbar spine (P=0.04) and hip (P=0.001), but not body composition outcomes, in all women, and after excluding estrogen users and adjusting for estradiol (P=0.04 and 0.01, respectively). Free T was positively related to hip BMD, lean body mass, and body fat (all P<0.05), with more than 10% differences in each outcome between women at the highest and lowest ends of the free T range, with attenuation after excluding estrogen users and adjusting for estradiol. Conclusions: In the setting of the low estradiol levels found in older women, circulating T levels were associated with bone density. Women with higher free T levels had greater lean body mass, consistent with the anabolic effect of T, and, in contrast to men, greater fat mass. Mechanistic studies are required to determine whether a causal relationship exists between T, bone, and body composition in this population and the degree to which any T effects are estrogen-independent.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism