Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 Jan;66(1):498-503. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1989.66.1.498.


We have studied the effect of a pharmacological dose of testosterone enanthate (3 mg.kg-1.wk-1 for 12 wk) on muscle mass and total-body potassium and on whole-body and muscle protein synthesis in normal male subjects. Muscle mass estimated by creatinine excretion increased in all nine subjects (20% mean increase, P less than 0.02); total body potassium mass estimated by 40K counting increased in all subjects (12% mean increase, P less than 0.0001). In four subjects, a primed continuous infusion protocol with L-[1-13C]leucine was used to determine whole-body leucine flux and oxidation. Whole-body protein synthesis was estimated from nonoxidative flux. Muscle protein synthesis rate was determined by measuring [13C]leucine incorporation into muscle samples obtained by needle biopsy. Testosterone increased muscle protein synthesis in all subjects (27% mean increase, P less than 0.05). Leucine oxidation decreased slightly (17% mean decrease, P less than 0.01), but whole-body protein synthesis did not change significantly. Muscle morphometry showed no significant increase in muscle fiber diameter. These studies suggest that testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Humans
  • Leucine / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / drug effects*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Testosterone
  • Creatinine
  • Leucine
  • Potassium