Objective: To test the relationship between gonadal status and objective measures and determinants of physical performance in older men and their determinants.
Methods: The study included 455 ≥ 65 year older men of InCHIANTI study, Italy, with complete data on testosterone levels, hand grip strength, cross-sectional muscle area (CSMA), short physical performance battery (SPPB). Linear models were used to test the relationship between gonadal status and determinants of physical performance.
Results: Three different groups of older men were created: (1) severely hypogonadal (N=23), total testosterone levels ≤ 230 ng /dl; (2) moderately hypogonadal (N=88), total testosterone >230 and < 350 ng/dl) and (3) eugonadal (N=344), testosterone levels ≥ 350 ng/dl. With increased severity of hypogonadal status, participants were significantly older while their BMI was substantially similar. In the age and BMI adjusted analysis, there was a significant difference in haemoglobin levels, hand grip strength and SPPB score (p for trend < 0.001) among three groups, with severely hypogonadal men having lower values of haemoglobin, muscle strength and physical performance. We found no association between testosterone group assignment and calf muscle mass and 4 m walking speed. In the multivariate analysis grip strength (p for trend = 0.004) and haemoglobin (p for trend < 0.0001) but not SPPB and other determinants of physical performance were significantly different between the three groups.
Conclusions: In older men, gonadal status is independently associated with some determinants (haemoglobin and muscle strength) of physical performance.