OBJECTIVE Population means for serum testosterone (T) levels in healthy men decrease with ageing but there is considerable interindividual variability of serum T in elderly men. Ultimate androgen action is mediated through the androgen receptor. Subtle differences in androgen sensitivity might contribute to serum T variability through the T negative feedback regulation. The androgen receptor gene (AR) contains in exon 1 a polymorphic trinucleotide CAG-repeat, whose length modulates androgen receptor action. The aims of the study were to assess the potential contribution of the AR CAG-repeat polymorphism in the interindividual variability of serum T and in the determination of bone metabolism in ambulatory elderly men.
DESIGN AND PATIENTS We used cross-sectional baseline data of a longitudinal study investigating the process of ageing, in particular the changes in hormonal status and bone metabolism, in a cohort of 273 community-dwelling healthy men, between age 71 and 86 years.
MEASUREMENTS AR CAG-repeat length was determined by automated DNA sequencing of exon 1 of the AR gene. Serum T, sex hormone binding globulin, LH and oestradiol were measured by specific immunoassays. Bone mineral density (BMD) was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Bone turnover was assessed by measurement of serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, serum osteocalcin, serum C-terminal type I procollagen peptide, serum and urinary C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen and urinary deoxypyridinoline levels, with use of immunoassays.
RESULTS No significant association was found between the AR CAG-repeat length and either total or free T, LH or the androgen sensitivity index (LHxT). BMD measurements at the hip and the forearm were not associated with AR CAG-repeat length and there was no association of this AR polymorphism with any of the biochemical markers of bone turnover. Results were not different after adjustments for age and body mass index.
CONCLUSIONS The findings of the present study do not support the view that in community-dwelling, healthy elderly men the androgen receptor gene CAG-repeat polymorphism has a substantial impact on interindividual variability of serum testosterone levels or on the determination of bone turnover and bone mineral density.