Similar reference intervals for total testosterone in healthy young and elderly men: results from the Odense Androgen Study


Correspondence: Morten Frost, Department of Endocrinology, Odense University Hospital, DK-5000 Odense, Denmark. Tel.: 0045 65413536; E-mail:



Ageing in men is associated with changes in levels of sex hormones.


To evaluate differences in sex hormones in young and elderly men and the significance of comorbidity and fat mass on sex hormones in elderly men.




Seven hundred and eighty-three men aged 20–29 years and 600 men aged 60–74 years randomly recruited from the background population.


Sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were measured, and reference intervals were determined in healthy individuals in both groups and in elderly men stratified according to whether they were obese or lean (waist circumference ≥102 cm).


Sex hormones were lower and SHBG higher in elderly men compared with the young cohort. Lower cut-offs for total testosterone (TT) in healthy, young and elderly men were similar [Lower cut-off (95% CI): Young: 11·7 (11·2–12·1) vs elderly: 11·2 (10·3–12·1) nmol/l], but lower and higher cut-offs of bioavailable testosterone (BT) and free testosterone (FT) were higher in young men. Higher levels of androgens were found in healthy elderly men compared with those with a chronic disease or obesity. Androgens were inversely associated with central fat mass (CFM), whereas SHBG was inversely and directly associated with CFM and lower extremity fat mass, respectively, in both young and elderly men.


Reference intervals for TT were comparable in healthy young and elderly men, but reference intervals for FT and BT were lower in elderly men due to higher levels of SHBG. Androgens and SHBG were lower in elderly men with chronic disease and inversely associated with CFM.