Mitochondria, glycogen, and lipid droplets in skeletal muscle during testosterone treatment and strength training: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial

Andrology. 2018 Jul;6(4):547-555. doi: 10.1111/andr.12492. Epub 2018 Apr 15.


Low testosterone levels in aging men are associated with insulin resistance. Mitochondrial dysfunction, changes in glycogen metabolism, and lipid accumulation are linked to insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. In this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, we investigated the effects of six-month testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and strength training (ST) on mitochondrial, glycogen, and lipid droplet (LD) content in skeletal muscle of aging men with subnormal bioavailable testosterone (BioT) levels. Mitochondrial, glycogen, and LD volume fractions in muscle biopsies were estimated by transmission electron microscopy. Insulin sensitivity (insulin-stimulated Rd) and body composition were assessed by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp and dual X-ray absorptiometry, respectively. TRT significantly increased total testosterone levels, BioT, and lean body mass (LBM) (p < 0.05), whereas percent body fat decreased (p < 0.05), and insulin sensitivity was unchanged. Baseline mitochondrial volume fraction correlated inversely with percent body fat (ρ = -0.43; p = 0.003). Δ-mitochondrial fraction correlated positively with Δ-total testosterone (ρ = 0.70; p = 0.02), and Δ-glycogen fraction correlated inversely with Δ-LBM (ρ = -0.83; p = 0.002) during six-month TRT, but no significant changes were observed in mitochondrial, glycogen, and LD volume fractions during TRT and ST. In conclusion, in this exploratory small-scale study, the beneficial effects of six-month TRT on total testosterone, LBM, and percent body fat were not followed by significant changes in fractions of mitochondria, glycogen, or lipid in skeletal muscle of aging men with lowered testosterone levels. Six-month ST or combined three-month ST+TRT did not change intramyocellular mitochondria, glycogen, and LD fractions compared to placebo. However, further studies with a larger sample size are needed.

Trial registration: NCT00700024.

Keywords: metabolism; skeletal muscle; testosterone replacement therapy; transmission electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Glycogen
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Droplets / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*


  • Testosterone
  • Glycogen

Associated data