Higher anabolic hormone levels predict lower risk of worsening frailty in men

April 3, 2017, The Endocrine Society

A new study suggests that middle-age and elderly men are less likely to develop worsening frailty if they have high levels of certain anabolic hormones, which are muscle- and bone-building hormones. The study results will be presented Sunday at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Frailty is the gradual loss of energy, strength and physical capability that can come with aging and often leads to dependency, disability and death. Decline in muscle mass and strength are thought to be the key factors in the development of ; however, what predisposes some elderly people to become frail and not others is unclear.

"With the aging population, frailty-related problems present an increasing challenge to healthcare systems worldwide," said the study's lead author, Agnieszka Swiecicka, M.D., a clinical research fellow at the University of Manchester in Manchester, U.K. "Better understanding of the causes of frailty could enable early identification of at-risk individuals and the development of new treatments and prevention strategies."

The investigators studied whether there is a relationship between anabolic levels and a change in over four years among older men, who took part in the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS). The 3,369 participants, ages 40 to 79 years, lived in the community and joined the study between 2003 and 2005 at eight European centers. At enrollment and four-year follow-up, the participants had their hormone levels measured and the degree of frailty assessed. One assessment, the Fried frailty phenotype, explored physical aspects of frailty such as low muscle mass and function, exhaustion, weakness, slow walking and low physical activity. Men with three to five criteria were considered frail. The other frailty assessment, a frailty index, allowed for evaluation of not only physical but also psychological and cognitive aspects of health.

Overall, 2,114 men had their frailty assessed by phenotype and 2,444 by frailty index at both study visits. After four years, the frailty status worsened in 459 men and improved in 206.

The researchers found that having higher baseline levels of vitamin D, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and its binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) was associated with a lower risk of worse frailty status four years later. "Vitamin D, besides maintaining bone health, regulates muscle function, and low vitamin D levels are linked to lower and strength. IGF-1 affects muscle growth and repair, and its action and levels are modified by its carrier protein IGFBP3," Swiecicka said.

Also linked to a lower likelihood of frailty status worsening were higher baseline levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), but only in the oldest men. Several potential pathways could link DHEA-S with frailty. Swiecicka said, "DHEA-S may have direct anabolic effect on , and, more recently, its neuroprotective and immune system-modulating effects have been described."

"We showed novel associations between anabolic hormone levels and changes in frailty levels in aging men," she said. "This does not establish cause, and clinical trials will be required to find out if giving these hormones to middle-age and could prevent the development of frailty."

Explore further: Screening for both malnutrition and frailty needed to enhance health of aging populations

Related Stories

Screening for both malnutrition and frailty needed to enhance health of aging populations

March 21, 2017
By 2035 one in four Canadians will be 65 years old or older, an age group prone to malnutrition and frailty. A new literature review published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism describes the similarities ...

Risk of frailty associated with changes in oral function

October 3, 2016
(HealthDay)—Aging is tied to changes in oral function, according to a study published online Sept. 22 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In-depth analysis of blood cells reveals signs of aging

November 16, 2016
"Doctors can't give you drugs just because you complain of being old," says Anis Larbi, who is trying to revolutionize the way elderly people are cared for. Larbi and his team at the A*STAR Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) ...

Study confirms vitamin D importance for older men

November 11, 2013
The largest study of ageing men in Australia has revealed low vitamin D as an independent predictor of all-cause mortality in older males.

Surprising result in new study of marital status, gender, and frailty

April 21, 2016
The well-accepted association between marital status, health, and risk of functional impairment in older individuals is generally true, but a new study on frailty found unexpected, gender-specific differences. Notably, widowed ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.