Endocrinological aspects of aging in men: is hormone replacement of benefit?

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2000 Sep;92(1):7-12. doi: 10.1016/s0301-2115(00)00420-6.


Age-related decreases of serum testosterone (total, free and bioavailable), DHEA, DHEA-S, growth hormone (GH) and IGF-I are well established in elderly healthy men. Although substantial, the decrease of these hormones is small compared to the estrogen changes observed in postmenopausal women. Elderly men also loose bone and muscle, gain fat and have less sexual appetite. Therefore, the assumption that hormonal therapy is a potential 'fountain of youth' appears logical. At present, however, the effects of replacement of testosterone, DHEA and GH in healthy elderly men have been studied in only a few randomised placebo-controlled trials. These studies were small and of short duration. Although some significant overall effects of either androgen or GH replacement on body composition (less fat and more muscle) were found, the effects of such therapy on muscle strength, on metabolic and sexual function and on skeletal homeostasis have been less consistent. Also, the safety of such therapy should be better documented. Moreover, data obtained in healthy elderly men cannot be transposed to non-healthy elderly men. In conclusion, more scientific work is needed before general replacement of the 'falling hormones' should be regarded as beneficial for elderly men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use
  • Endocrine Glands / physiology*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Hormones
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone