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Free access

Robert J A H Eendebak, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Stephen R Pye, Tomas Ahern, Terence W O’Neill, György Bartfai, Felipe F Casanueva, Mario Maggi, Gianni Forti, Robert D Alston, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Krzysztof Kula, Michael E J Lean, Margus Punab, Neil Pendleton, Brian G Keevil, Dirk Vanderschueren, Martin K Rutter, Gindo Tampubolon, Royston Goodacre, Frederick C W Wu, and for the EMAS Group

Context

The androgen receptor (AR) gene exon 1 CAG repeat length has been proposed to be a determinant of between-individual variations in androgen action in target tissues, which might regulate phenotypic differences of human ageing. However, findings on its phenotypic effects are inconclusive.

Objective

To assess whether the AR CAG repeat length is associated with longitudinal changes in endpoints that are influenced by testosterone (T) levels in middle-aged and elderly European men.

Design

Multinational European observational prospective cohort study.

Participants

A total of 1887 men (mean ± s.d. age: 63 ± 11 years; median follow up: 4.3 years) from centres of eight European countries comprised the analysis sample after exclusion of those with diagnosed diseases of the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular (HPT) axis.

Main outcome measures

Longitudinal associations between the AR CAG repeat and changes in androgen-sensitive endpoints (ASEs) and medical conditions were assessed using regression analysis adjusting for age and centre. The AR CAG repeat length was treated as both a continuous and a categorical (6–20; 21–23; 24–39 repeats) predictor. Additional analysis investigated whether results were independent of baseline T or oestradiol (E2) levels.

Results

The AR CAG repeat, when used as a continuous or a categorical predictor, was not associated with longitudinal changes in ASEs or medical conditions after adjustments. These results were independent of T and E2 levels.

Conclusion

Within a 4-year time frame, variations in the AR CAG repeat do not contribute to the rate of phenotypic ageing, over and above, which might be associated with the age-related decline in T levels.

Free access

Thang S Han, Abdelouahid Tajar, Terence W O'Neill, Min Jiang, György Bartfai, Steven Boonen, Felipe Casanueva, Joseph D Finn, Gianni Forti, Aleksander Giwercman, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Krzysztof Kula, Neil Pendleton, Margus Punab, Alan J Silman, Dirk Vanderschueren, Michael E J Lean, Frederick C W Wu, and the EMAS group

Background

Few published data link overweight and obesity with measures of quality of life (QoL) including sexual health in men.

Objective

To assess the association of overweight/obesity with impairment of physical and psychological QoL and sexual functions in men.

Design and setting

Cross-sectional, multicentre survey of 3369 community-dwelling men aged 40–79 (mean±s.d., 60±11) years randomly selected from eight European centres.

Outcomes

Adiposity was assessed by body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC), QoL and functional impairments by physical and psychological function domains of the Short Form-36 questionnaire, Beck's Depression Inventory and the European Male Ageing Study sexual function questionnaire.

Results

Complete data on sexual activities and erectile function were available in 2734 (92%) and 3193 (95%) of the participants respectively. From the population studied, 814 men were obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) and 1171 had WC ≥102 cm, 25% of all men were unable to do vigorous activity and 2–13% reported depressive symptoms. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction ranged between 22% (low sexual desire) and 40% (infrequent morning erections) of the participants. Among obese men with both BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and WC ≥102 cm, at least one symptom of impaired physical, psychological and sexual function was reported by 41, 43 and 73% of the participants respectively. Compared with the reference group of non-obese men (BMI <30 kg/m2 and WC <102 cm), men with BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and WC ≥102 cm more frequently reported at least one symptom of impaired physical function (odds ratio (OR)=2.67; confidence interval (CI): 2.07–3.45, P<0.001), impaired psychological function (OR=1.48; CI: 1.14–1.90, P<0.01) and impaired sexual function (OR=1.45; CI: 1.14–1.85, P<0.01). These functional impairments were also more prevalent in men who had WC ≥102 cm even with BMI <30 kg/m2, but those with BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and WC <102 cm generally did not suffer from increased impaired physical or sexual health. Men with high BMI and WC were at even greater likelihood of having a composite of two or more or three or more symptoms compared with those with normal BMI and WC.

Conclusions

Men with high WC, including those who are ‘non-obese’ with BMI <30 kg/m2, have poor QoL with symptoms of impaired physical, psychological and sexual functions. Health promotion to improve QoL should focus on prevention of obesity and central fat accumulation.

Free access

E M Camacho, I T Huhtaniemi, T W O'Neill, J D Finn, S R Pye, D M Lee, A Tajar, G Bartfai, S Boonen, F F Casanueva, G Forti, A Giwercman, T S Han, K Kula, B Keevil, M E Lean, N Pendleton, M Punab, D Vanderschueren, F C W Wu, and the EMAS Group

Objective

Health and lifestyle factors are associated with variations in serum testosterone levels in ageing men. However, it remains unclear how age-related changes in testosterone may be attenuated by lifestyle modifications. The objective was to investigate the longitudinal relationships between changes in health and lifestyle factors with changes in hormones of the reproductive endocrine axis in ageing men.

Design

A longitudinal survey of 2736 community-dwelling men aged 40–79 years at baseline recruited from eight centres across Europe. Follow-up assessment occurred mean (±s.d.) 4.4±0.3 years later.

Results

Paired testosterone results were available for 2395 men. Mean (±s.d.) annualised hormone changes were as follows: testosterone −0.1±0.95 nmol/l; free testosterone (FT) −3.83±16.8 pmol/l; sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) 0.56±2.5 nmol/l and LH 0.08±0.57 U/l. Weight loss was associated with a proportional increase, and weight gain a proportional decrease, in testosterone and SHBG. FT showed a curvilinear relationship to weight change; only those who gained or lost ≥15% of weight showed a significant change (in the same direction as testosterone). Smoking cessation was associated with a greater decline in testosterone than being a non-smoker, which was unrelated to weight change. Changes in number of comorbid conditions or physical activity were not associated with significant alterations in hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular (HPT) axis function.

Conclusions

Body weight and lifestyle factors influence HPT axis function in ageing. Weight loss was associated with a rise, and weight gain a fall, in testosterone, FT and SHBG. Weight management appears to be important in maintaining circulating testosterone in ageing men, and obesity-associated changes in HPT axis hormones are reversible following weight reduction.

Free access

David M Lee, Abdelouahid Tajar, Stephen R Pye, Steven Boonen, Dirk Vanderschueren, Roger Bouillon, Terence W O'Neill, Gyorgy Bartfai, Felipe F Casanueva, Joseph D Finn, Gianni Forti, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Krzysztof Kula, Michael E J Lean, Neil Pendleton, Margus Punab, Frederick C W Wu, and the EMAS study group

Objective

Interrelationships between hormones of the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular (HPT) axis, hypogonadism, vitamin D and seasonality remain poorly defined. We investigated whether HPT axis hormones and hypogonadism are associated with serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in men.

Design and methods

Cross-sectional survey of 3369 community-dwelling men aged 40–79 years in eight European centres. Testosterone (T), oestradiol (E2) and dihydrotestosterone were measured by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; LH, FSH, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone by immunoassay. Free T was calculated from total T, SHBG and albumin. Gonadal status was categorised as eugonadal (normal T/LH), secondary (low T, low/normal LH), primary (low T, elevated LH) and compensated (normal T, elevated LH) hypogonadism. Associations of HPT axis hormones with 25(OH)D were examined using linear regression and hypogonadism with vitamin D using multinomial logistic regression.

Results

In univariate analyses, free T levels were lower (P=0.02) and E2 and LH levels were higher (P<0.05) in men with vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D <50 nmol/l). 25(OH)D was positively associated with total and free T and negatively with E2 and LH in age- and centre-adjusted linear regressions. After adjusting for health and lifestyle factors, no significant associations were observed between 25(OH)D and individual hormones of the HPT axis. However, vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with compensated (relative risk ratio (RRR)=1.52, P=0.03) and secondary hypogonadism (RRR=1.16, P=0.05). Seasonal variation was only observed for 25(OH)D (P<0.001).

Conclusions

Secondary and compensated hypogonadism were associated with vitamin D deficiency and the clinical significance of this relationship warrants further investigation.

Free access

Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Abdelouahid Tajar, David M Lee, Terence W O'Neill, Joseph D Finn, György Bartfai, Steven Boonen, Felipe F Casanueva, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Krzysztof Kula, Fernand Labrie, Michael E J Lean, Neil Pendleton, Margus Punab, Alan J Silman, Dirk Vanderschueren, Gianni Forti, Frederick C W Wu, and the EMAS Group

Background

The limitations of serum testosterone and estradiol (E2) measurements using non-extraction platform immunoassays (IAs) are widely recognized. Switching to more specific mass spectrometry (MS)-based methods has been advocated, but directly comparative data on the two methods are scarce.

Methods

We compared serum testosterone and E2 measurements in a large sample of middle-aged/elderly men using a common platform IA and a gas chromatography (GC)–MS method, in order to assess their limitations and advantages, and to diagnose male hypogonadism. Of subjects from the European Male Aging Study (n=3174; age 40–79 years), peripheral serum testosterone and E2 were analyzed using established commercial platform IAs (Roche Diagnostics E170) and in-house GC–MS methods.

Results

Over a broad concentration range, serum testosterone concentration measured by IA and MS showed high correlation (R=0.93, P<0.001), which was less robust in the hypogonadal range (<11 nmol/l; R=0.72, P<0.001). The IA/MS correlation was weaker in E2 measurements (R=0.32, P<0.001, at E2 <40.8 pmol/l, and R=0.74, P<0.001, at E2 >40.8 pmol/l). Using MS as the comparator method, IA ascertained low testosterone compatible with hypogonadism (<11 nmol/l), with 75% sensitivity and 96.3% specificity. The same parameters with IA for the detection of low E2 (<40.7 pmol/l) were 13.3 and 99.3%, and for high E2 (>120 pmol/l) 88.4 and 88.6%.

Conclusion

A validated platform IA is sufficient to detect subnormal testosterone concentrations in the diagnosis of male hypogonadism. The IA used for E2 measurements showed poor correlation with MS and may only be suitable for the detection of high E2 in men.

Free access

T S Han, D M Lee, M E J Lean, J D Finn, T W O'Neill, G Bartfai, G Forti, A Giwercman, K Kula, N Pendleton, M Punab, M K Rutter, D Vanderschueren, I T Huhtaniemi, F C W Wu, F F Casanueva, and the EMAS Study Group

Background

Social and lifestyle influences on age-related changes in body morphology are complex because lifestyle and physiological response to social stress can affect body fat differently.

Objective

In this study, we examined the associations of socioeconomic status (SES) and lifestyle factors with BMI and waist circumference (WC) in middle-aged and elderly European men.

Design and setting

A cross-sectional study of 3319 men aged 40–79 years recruited from eight European centres.

Outcomes

We estimated relative risk ratios (RRRs) of overweight/obesity associated with unfavourable SES and lifestyles.

Results

The prevalence of BMI ≥30 kg/m2 or WC ≥102 cm rose linearly with age, except in the eighth decade when high BMI, but not high WC, declined. Among men aged 40–59 years, compared with non-smokers or most active men, centre and BMI-adjusted RRRs for having a WC between 94 and 101.9 cm increased by 1.6-fold in current smokers, 2.7-fold in least active men and maximal at 2.8-fold in least active men who smoked. Similar patterns but greater RRRs were observed for men with WC ≥102 cm, notably 8.4-fold greater in least active men who smoked. Compared with men in employment, those who were not in employment had increased risk of having a high WC by 1.4-fold in the 40–65 years group and by 1.3-fold in the 40–75 years group. These relationships were weaker among elderly men.

Conclusion

Unfavourable SES and lifestyles associate with increased risk of obesity, especially in middle-aged men. The combination of inactivity and smoking was the strongest predictor of high WC, providing a focus for health promotion and prevention at an early age.

Free access

M K Rutter, N Sattar, A Tajar, T W O'Neill, D M Lee, G Bartfai, S Boonen, F F Casanueva, J D Finn, G Forti, A Giwercman, T S Han, I T Huhtaniemi, K Kula, M E J Lean, N Pendleton, M Punab, A J Silman, D Vanderschueren, G Lowe, S O'Rahilly, R W Morris, F C Wu, S G Wannamethee, and the BRHS and EMAS Study Groups

Objective

It has been suggested that elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) might interfere with leptin signalling and contribute to leptin resistance. Our aim was to assess whether plasma levels of CRP influence leptin resistance in humans, and our hypothesis was that CRP levels would modify the cross-sectional relationships between leptin and measures of adiposity.

Design and methods

We assessed four measures of adiposity: BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and body fat (%) in 2113 British Regional Heart Study (BRHS) men (mean (s.d.) age 69 (5) years), with replication in 760 (age 69 (6) years) European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) subjects.

Results

In BRHS subjects, leptin correlated with CRP (Spearman's r=0.22, P<0.0001). Leptin and CRP correlated with all four measures of adiposity (r value range: 0.22–0.57, all P<0.0001). Age-adjusted mean levels for adiposity measures increased in relation to leptin levels, but CRP level did not consistently influence the β-coefficients of the regression lines in a CRP-stratified analysis. In BRHS subjects, the BMI vs leptin relationship demonstrated a weak statistical interaction with CRP (P=0.04). We observed no similar interaction in EMAS subjects and no significant interactions with other measures of adiposity in BRHS or EMAS cohorts.

Conclusion

We have shown that plasma CRP has little influence on the relationship between measures of adiposity and serum leptin levels in these middle-aged and elderly male European cohorts. This study provides epidemiological evidence against CRP having a significant role in causing leptin resistance.

Free access

David M Lee, Aslan Ulubaev, Abdelouahid Tajar, Stephen R Pye, Neil Pendleton, Nitin Purandare, Terence W O'Neill, Daryl B O'Connor, Fernand Labrie, Hazel Platt, Debbie Payne, Gyorgy Bartfai, Steven Boonen, Felipe F Casanueva, Joseph D Finn, Gianni Forti, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Krzysztof Kula, Michael E J Lean, Margus Punab, Alan J Silman, Dirk Vanderschueren, Frederick C W Wu, and the EMAS study group

Objective

Data remain divergent regarding the activational effects of endogenous hormones on adult cognitive function. We examined the association between cognition, hormones and androgen receptor (AR) CAG repeat length in a large cohort of men.

Design

Community-based, cross-sectional study of 3369 men aged 40–79 years.

Methods

Cognition tests were the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure, Camden Topographical Recognition Memory and Digit-Symbol Substitution. A fluid cognition (FC) z-score was computed from the individual tests. Testosterone, oestradiol (OE2) and 5α-dihydrotestosterone were measured by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; DHEAS, LH, FSH and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) by electrochemiluminescence. Free testosterone and OE2 were calculated from total hormone, SHBG and albumin. CAG repeat lengths were assayed by PCR genotyping.

Results

Total testosterone and free testosterone were associated with higher FC z-scores, LH and FSH with lower FC z-scores in age-adjusted linear regressions. After adjusting for health, lifestyle and centre, a modest association was only observed between DHEAS and a lower FC z-score (β=−0.011, P=0.02), although this was driven by subjects with DHEAS levels >10 μmol/l. Locally weighted plots revealed no threshold effects between hormones and FC. There was no association between CAG repeat length and FC z-score after adjustment for age and centre (β=−0.007, P=0.06), nor any interaction effect between CAG repeat length and hormones.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that endogenous hormones are not associated with a vision-based measure of FC among healthy, community-dwelling men. Further studies are warranted to determine whether ‘high’ DHEAS levels are associated with poorer performance on a broader range of neuropsychological tests.

Free access

Steven Boonen, Stephen R Pye, Terence W O'Neill, Pawel Szulc, Evelien Gielen, Herman Borghs, Sabine Verschueren, Frank Claessens, Judith E Adams, Kate A Ward, Gyorgy Bartfai, Felipe Casanueva, Joseph D Finn, Gianni Forti, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Krzysztof Kula, Fernand Labrie, Michael E J Lean, Neil Pendleton, Margus Punab, Alan J Silman, Abdelouahid Tajar, Frederick C W Wu, Dirk Vanderschueren, and the EMAS Group

Objective

To assess the influence of sex hormones on markers of bone turnover and to explore the association between these markers and bone health in middle-aged and elderly European men.

Design

A cross-sectional population-based survey.

Methods

Men aged 40–79 years were recruited from population registers in eight European centres. Subjects completed a postal questionnaire which included questions concerning lifestyle and were invited to undergo quantitative ultrasound (QUS) of the calcaneus and to provide a fasting blood sample from which the bone markers serum N-terminal propeptide of type 1 procollagen (P1NP) and crosslinks (β C-terminal cross-linked telopeptide (β-cTX)), total testosterone, total oestradiol (E2), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) were measured. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) of the hip and lumbar spine was performed in two centres.

Results

A total of 3120, mean age 59.9 years (s.d.=11.0) were included. After adjustment for centre, age, height, weight, lifestyle factors, season and other hormones, total and free E2 were negatively associated with β-cTX but not P1NP while SHBG, IGF1 and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were positively associated with both β-cTX and P1NP. Total or free testosterone was not independently associated with either bone marker. After the same adjustments, higher levels of both bone markers were significantly associated with lower QUS parameters and lower DXA-assessed bone density at the total hip and lumbar spine.

Conclusions

E2, SHBG, IGF1 and PTH contribute significantly to the regulation/rate of bone turnover in middle-aged and older European men. Higher rates of bone remodelling are negatively associated with male bone health.