Ann Med 1993 Jun;25(3):235-41
Transdermal (DHT) dihydrotestosterone treatment of ‘andropause’.
de Lignieres, Bruno
Departement d’endocrinologie et medecine de la reproduction, Hopital Necker, Paris, France.
Male ageing coincides on average with progressive impairment of testicular function. The most striking plasma changes are an increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and a decrease in non SHBG-bound testosterone, which is the only testosterone subfraction effectively bioavailable for target tissues. In healthy subjects the bioavailable testosterone declines by approximately 1% per year between 40 and 70 years but a more pronounced decline has been observed in non-healthy groups, especially in high cardiovascular risks groups.
Relative androgen deficiency is likely to have unfavourable consequences on muscle, adipose tissue, bone, haematopoiesis, fibrinolysis, insulin sensitivity, central nervous system, mood and sexual function and might be treated by an appropriate androgen supplementation.
The potential risk for prostate has been the main reason for limiting indications of such treatment. Testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are two potent androgens which have opposite effects regarding aromatase activity, an enzyme present in prostate stroma and suspected to have a pathogenic influence through local oestradiol synthesis.
T is the main substrate for aromatase and oestradiol synthesis while DHT is not aromatizable and, at sufficient concentration, decreases T and oestradiol levels.
A 1.8 years survey of 37 men aged 55-70 years treated with daily percutaneous DHT treatment suggested that high plasma levels of DHT (> 8.5 nmol/l) effectively induced clinical benefits while slightly but significantly reducing prostate size.
Early stages of prostate hypertrophy require synergic stimulation by both DHT and oestradiol, and suppressing oestradiol instead of DHT seems easier and better adapted to the specific situation of aged hypogonadic men.