The Relationship Between Androgens and Arterial Stiffness in Older Men


  • Funding was received from British Geriatrics Society to cover laboratory tests.

Address correspondence to Dr. Frances Dockery, Section of Geriatric Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Objectives: To assess the relationship between endogenous androgen levels and arterial stiffness in older men.

Design: A retrospective, cross-sectional study.

Setting: A London hospital-based, clinical research unit for the elderly.

Participants: Fifty-five men (mean age±standard deviation=71.1±8.0).

Intervention: Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) were measured in all subjects who had a stored serum sample drawn the same day as arterial stiffness measures were performed. Free testosterone index (FTI) was calculated ((total testosterone/SHBG)×100 (%)). The measures of arterial stiffness used were pulse wave velocity (PWV) using the Complior system and systemic arterial compliance (SAC) using the area method.

Measurements: Relationship between arterial stiffness and serum androgens.

Results: FTI showed a strong positive relationship with SAC (r=0.507, P<.001) and, correspondingly, an inverse relationship with carotid-femoral (C-F) and carotid-radial (C-R) PWV (r=–0.427 and –0.402, respectively, P≤.002). With multiple regression, including age, blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, and waist/hip ratio, FTI remained a significant determinant of SAC and C-R PWV but not C-F PWV. In the subgroup of men without cardiovascular disease or vasoactive medication use (n=37), all three relationships remained significant. DHEAS was inversely related to C-F PWV only (r=–0.304, P=.041).

Conclusion: The known association between lower androgenicity and increased cardiovascular risk in men might be explained by altered vascular stiffness.