Sex hormones and frailty in older men: The osteoporotic fractures in men (MrOS) study

Peggy M. Cawthon, Kristine E. Ensrud, Gail A. Laughlin, Jane A. Cauley, Thuy Tien L. Dam, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Howard A. Fink, Andrew R. Hoffman, Edith Lau, Nancy E. Lane, Marcia L. Stefanick, Steven R. Cummings, Eric S. Orwoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Context: As men age, the prevalence of frailty increases whereas levels of androgens decline. Little is known about the relation between these factors. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, testosterone, bioavailable testosterone (bioT), and SHBG with frailty status. Design and Setting: The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study was conducted at six U.S. clinical centers. Participants: A total of 1469 community-dwelling men at least 65 yr old with baseline data participated; 1245 men had frailty status reassessed 4.1 yr later. Main Outcome Measure: Proportional odds models estimated the likelihood of greater frailty status. Frail men had at least three of the following: weakness, slowness, low activity, exhaustion, and shrinking/sarcopenia; intermediate men had one or two criteria; and robust men had none. At follow-up, death was included as an additional ordinal outcome. Sex hormones were assayed by spectrometry/chromatographic methods. Results: In cross-sectional analyses, men in the lowest quartile of bioT had 1.39-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.02, 1.91) increased odds of greater frailty status compared to men in the highest quartile after adjustment for covariates including age, body size, health status, and medical conditions. In age-adjusted longitudinal analyses, men in the lowest quartile of bioT had 1.51-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.10, 2.07) increased odds of greater frailty status 4.1 yr later. This association was largely attenuated by adjustment for covariates. No other hormones were associated in a cross-sectional or longitudinal manner with frailty status after adjustment. Conclusions: Low levels of bioT were independently associated with worse baseline frailty status. Frailty status should be considered as an outcome in trials of testosterone supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3806-3815
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009


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