Potentially predictive and manipulable blood serum correlates of aging in the healthy human male: progressive decreases in bioavailable testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and the ratio of insulin-like growth factor 1 to growth hormone

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7537-42. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.14.7537.


A cross-sectional survey was made in 56 exceptionally healthy males, ranging in age from 20 to 84 years. Measurements were made of selected steroidal components and peptidic hormones in blood serum, and cognitive and physical tests were performed. Of those blood serum variables that gave highly significant negative correlations with age (r > -0.6), bioavailable testosterone (BT), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), and the ratio of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) to growth hormone (GH) showed a stepwise pattern of age-related changes most closely resembling those of the age steps themselves. Of these, BT correlated best with significantly age-correlated cognitive and physical measures. Because DHEAS correlated well with BT and considerably less well than BT with the cognitive and physical measures, it seems likely that BT and/or substances to which BT gives rise in tissues play a more direct role in whatever processes are rate-limiting in the functions measured and that DHEAS relates more indirectly to these functions. The high correlation of IGF-1/GH with age, its relatively low correlation with BT, and the patterns of correlations of IGF-1/GH and BT with significantly age-correlated cognitive and physical measures suggest that the GH-IGF-1 axis and BT play independent roles in affecting these functions. Serial determinations made after oral ingestion of pregnenolone and data from the literature suggest there is interdependence of steroid metabolic systems with those operational in control of interrelations in the GH-IGF-1 axis. Longitudinal concurrent measurements of serum levels of BT, DHEAS, and IGF-1/GH together with detailed studies of their correlations with age-correlated functional measures may be useful in detecting early age-related dysregulations and may be helpful in devising ameliorative approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood*
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I