Androgen replacement therapy (ART), or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), is commonly prescribed in cases of hypogonadism among men. Despite controversy, TRT is also frequently given to healthy older males, roughly around middle age, who are beginning to experience the changes caused by decreasing testosterone, such as decreased stamina, erectile dysfunction, and a lower muscle mass to body fat ratio. This hormone replacement therapy typically involves the administration of testosterone via injection, or topically through creams or gels.
Scientists from the UNT Health Science Center have recently published their findings on a study that cross examined Caucasian Americans’ and Mexican Americans’ susceptibility to the known adverse effects of TRT. Their report claims that even though the hormone therapy was found to cause neurologic damage in Caucasian men, those who had a Mexican ethnicity were not at risk.
According to Pharmacology and Neuroscience Assistant Professor Rebecca Cunningham, PhD, the Caucasian participants that were noted to have higher oxidative stress were more likely to incur brain damage from TRT. Mexican American subjects, however, were not at all affected by oxidative stress. The study is currently available in this month’s issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and offers a deeper insight into the relationship between ethnicity and predisposition to neurologic affectation.
Cunningham said that while there are several factors that cause brain damage and dementia, they are all observed to be conditional on the individual’s ethnicity.
Briefly explained, oxidative stress rises when there is an imbalance in favor of the body’s endogenous free radicals versus levels of beneficial antioxidants. In this study, the scientists used oxidative stress to ascertain if testosterone has the tendency to either preserve neurons or harm them. The scientists noted that in previous researches, approximately 20%-30% of older men did not exhibit any type of response to TRT. Dr. Cunningham states, however, that their study revealed a trend of negative effects only in Caucasian males with elevated oxidative stress levels, while Mexican American males were protected – probably due to their elevated antioxidants.
This led the team to a conclusion that while TRT can restore or boost one’s sexual appetite, its disadvantages may outweigh its benefits, especially in Caucasian men. Physicians who still wish to prescribe the therapy are encouraged to prescribe a blood test that detects oxidative stress in order to find out if a patient is a safe candidate for TRT.