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Two rich new resources for men’s health research

Two rich new resources for men’s health research

Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director,
Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology (DGCG)

More exciting news this month as our AgingResearchBiobank continues to grow! While our previous post focused on Biobank tools for women’s health research, our latest collections spotlight two important clinical studies on older men’s health. If you’re studying sex differences in risks and resilience as we age, be sure to connect to these newly released Biobank resources.

Men get osteoporosis, too!

First up is the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS), a multi-center, longitudinal study that has tracked nearly 6,000 U.S. participants for more than 20 years. Initially focused on older men’s bone health, it grew to include other healthy aging topics and added 5,000 more men from Hong Kong and Sweden. MrOS tracked outcomes and data on musculoskeletal aging (physical performance, falls, osteoarthritis, and sarcopenia) along with sleep, cardiovascular health, prostate cancer, and lower urinary tract symptoms. Over the years, MrOS has generated vast insight into men’s healthy aging and spawned hundreds of publications.

While osteoporosis is usually associated with older women, men also face increased bone loss risk with age. Prior to MrOS, men’s osteoporosis data was very limited, making it tough to identify the best diagnostic, assessment, and preventive methods. MrOS findings have since illuminated how men’s bone loss or low bone density relate to risk for falls, fracture, and physical disability, alongside extensive DNA and genotyping data.

We hope the availability of MrOS collection through the AgingResearchBiobank will stimulate future studies on how the biology of musculoskeletal health changes over time, along with other biomarkers of healthy aging and longevity. MrOS data could also assist in investigations into the impact of the microbiome and environmental toxins on common age-related conditions.

Testosterone: Tracking the “manliest” molecule

Next we turn to C19H28O2, better known as the male hormone testosterone, or “T” for short (it should be noted that despite its macho image, testosterone also has important functions in women’s biology and health). Men’s T levels gradually decline with age, as do libido, walking speed, energy, hemoglobin, and bone mineral density. The Testosterone Trials (TTrials) began in 2009 and concluded in 2018, with a total of 790 participants from 12 U.S. clinical sites. These seven interventional clinical trials investigated the impact of boosting testosterone levels in older men who had low serum levels of the hormone and had issues with at least one of the studied complaints like decreased libido, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, slower gait, or low vitality.

Results published in 2017 showed that, compared to placebo, testosterone treatment via a gel applied to the skin increased older men’s sexual function, hemoglobin concentration (correcting anemia), and bone strength and density. However, testosterone supplementation did not improve physical function in symptomatic men and had only minor impact on vitality and fatigue. The T gel also raised levels of non-calcified coronary artery plaque, a concerning finding with uncertain clinical significance, due to the TTrials’ limited size and duration. In these trials, T treatment did not impact any aspect of cognitive function.

The TTrials’ samples and data in the Biobank’s collection can be valuable for many further explorations of how testosterone impacts older men’s health, including but not limited to biomarkers and potential therapies involved in blood and bone health.

Visit the Biobank!

For more information on these and other collections, please visit the AgingResearchBiobank website. There you can learn more about how to submit a study collection for inclusion or request access to biospecimens and data to support your research.

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