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Keywords:

  • testosterone;
  • male hypogonadism;
  • trabecular architecture;
  • osteoporosis;
  • magnetic resonance microimaging

Abstract

We evaluated the effect of testosterone treatment on trabecular architecture by μMRI in 10 untreated severely hypogonadal men. After 2 years, μMRI parameters of trabecular connectivity improved significantly, suggesting the possibility that testosterone improves trabecular architecture.

Introduction: Osteoporosis, characterized by low BMD and diminished bone quality, is a significant public health problem in men. Hypogonadal men have decreased BMD and deteriorated trabecular architecture compared with eugonadal men, and testosterone treatment improves their BMD. We tested the hypothesis that testosterone replacement in hypogonadal men would also improve their trabecular architecture.

Materials and Methods: We selected 10 untreated severely hypogonadal men and treated them with a testosterone gel for 24 months to maintain their serum testosterone concentrations within the normal range. Each subject was assessed before and after 6, 12, and 24 months of testosterone treatment by magnetic resonance microimaging (μMRI) of the distal tibia and by DXA of the spine and hip. The μMRI parameters reflect the integrity of the trabecular network and include the ratio of all surface voxels (representing plates) to curve voxels (representing rods) and the topological erosion index, a ratio of topological parameters expected to increase on trabecular deterioration to those expected to decrease. The higher the surface-to-curve ratio and the lower the topological erosion index, the more intact the trabecular network.

Results: Serum testosterone concentrations increased to midnormal after 3 months of treatment and remained normal thereafter. After 24 months of testosterone treatment, BMD of the spine increased 7.4% (p < 0.001), and of the total hip increased 3.8% (p = 0.008). Architectural parameters assessed by μMRI also changed: the surface-to-curve ratio increased 11% (p = 0.004) and the topological erosion index decreased 7.5% (p = 0.004).

Conclusions: These results suggest the possibility that testosterone replacement of hypogonadal men improves trabecular architecture.