Background: Alterations in anabolic hormones are theorized to contribute to aging and frailty, with most studies focusing on the relationship between individual hormones and specific age-associated diseases. We hypothesized that associations with frailty would most likely manifest in the presence of deficits in multiple anabolic hormones.
Methods: The relationships of serum levels of total IGF-1, DHEAS, and free testosterone (T) with frailty status (nonfrail, prefrail, or frail) were analyzed in 494 women aged 70-79 years enrolled in the Women's Health and Aging Studies I or II. Using multivariate polytomous regression, we calculated the odds of frailty for deficiency in each hormone (defined as the bottom quartile of the hormone) individually, as well as for a count of the hormones.
Results: For each hormone, in adjusted analyses, those with the deficiency were more likely to be frail than those without the deficiency, although this did not achieve statistical significance (IGF-1: odds ratio [OR] 1.82, confidence interval [CI] 0.81-4.08; DHEAS: OR 1.68, CI 0.77-3.69; free T: OR 2.03, CI 0.89-4.64). Compared with those with no hormonal deficiencies, those with one deficiency were not more likely to be frail (OR 1.15, CI 0.49-2.68), whereas those with two or three deficiencies had a very high likelihood of being frail (OR 2.79, CI 1.06-7.32), in adjusted models.
Conclusions: The absolute burden of anabolic hormonal deficiencies is a stronger predictor of frailty status than the type of hormonal deficiency, and the relationship is nonlinear. These analyses suggest generalized endocrine dysfunction in the frailty syndrome.