A closed literature-based discovery technique finds a mechanistic link between hypogonadism and diminished sleep quality in aging men

Sleep. 2012 Feb 1;35(2):279-85. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1640.


Study objectives: Sleep quality commonly diminishes with age, and, further, aging men often exhibit a wider range of sleep pathologies than women. We used a freely available, web-based discovery technique (Semantic MEDLINE) supported by semantic relationships to automatically extract information from MEDLINE titles and abstracts.

Design: We assumed that testosterone is associated with sleep (the A-C relationship in the paradigm) and looked for a mechanism to explain this association (B explanatory link) as a potential or partial mechanism underpinning the etiology of eroded sleep quality in aging men.

Measurements and results: Review of full-text papers in critical nodes discovered in this manner resulted in the proposal that testosterone enhances sleep by inhibiting cortisol. Using this discovery method, we posit, and could confirm as a novel hypothesis, cortisol as part of a mechanistic link elucidating the observed correlation between decreased testosterone in aging men and diminished sleep quality.

Conclusions: This approach is publically available and useful not only in this manner but also to generate from the literature alternative explanatory models for observed experimental results.

Keywords: Information technology; cortisol; literature-based discovery; men; sleep; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypogonadism / blood*
  • Hypogonadism / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / blood
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone