Hypogonadism associated with muscle atrophy, physical inactivity and ESA hyporesponsiveness in men undergoing haemodialysis

Nefrologia. 2017 Jan-Feb;37(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.nefro.2016.04.009. Epub 2016 Aug 21.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Background: Testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism) is common among men undergoing haemodialysis, but its clinical implications are not well characterized. Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that induces erythrocytosis and muscle synthesis. We hypothesized that testosterone deficiency would be associated with low muscle mass, physical inactivity and higher dosages of erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESA).

Methods: Single-center cross-sectional study of 57 male haemodialysis patients. None of the patients was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy. Total testosterone was measured in serum. Body composition (by bioelectrical impedance analysis) and physical activity (by the use of pedometers) were assessed. Patients with testosterone levels below the normal range were considered hypogonadal.

Results: Mean testosterone level was 321±146ng/dL; 20 patients (35%) were hypogonadal. Hypogonadal patients were older and had lower mean arterial blood pressure, higher interleukin-6 levels, lower lean body mass and higher fat body mass. A negative association between testosterone and normalized ESA dose was found in uni- and multivariate regression analyses. Testosterone levels directly correlated with lean body mass regardless of confounders. Hypogonadal patients had lower physical activity than their counterparts [2753±1784 vs. 4291±3225steps/day (p=0.04)]. The relationship between testosterone and physical activity was independent of age, comorbidities and inflammatory markers, but dependent on the proportion of muscle mass.

Conclusion: Hypogonadism is common in our male haemodialysis population and is associated with higher ESA doses, reduced muscle mass and lower physical activity. The link between low testosterone levels and physical inactivity may conceivably relate to reduced muscle mass due to inadequate muscle protein synthesis.

Keywords: Actividad física; Haemodialysis; Hemodiálisis; Physical activity; Testosterona; Testosterone.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Body Composition
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Resistance
  • Exercise
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / etiology*
  • Hypogonadism / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Hematinics
  • Testosterone