Testosterone is involved in a number of important body functions such as sex drive and immune function, and controls the development of male characteristics such as aggression, a deeper voice and greater muscle mass. Recent studies have also suggested a link between testosterone levels and cardiovascular disease, but the research results have been contradictory.
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have just published two extensive studies concering testosterone. The first builds on the examination of 2,600 men aged between 69 and 80 in Gothenburg, Uppsala and Malmö and establishes that low levels of testosterone are definitely linked to poorer health.
Lower levels, greater risk
“We have monitored the men for five years and have seen that those with lower testosterone levels are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those with levels in the upper range,” says Åsa Tivesten, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Marker for good health
The conclusion of the article, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, is that the body’s production of testosterone may protect men from cardiovascular disease, or that normal testosterone levels are a marker for good health.
Genes behind testosterone levels
Meanwhile, the Sahlgrenska Academy’s professor Claes Ohlsson is heading an international research project that identify the genes that control testosterone levels. By analysing genetic data from over 14,000 men, the researchers have managed to pinpoint three genetic variants, which together increase the risk of developing low testosterone levels six-fold.
First time demonstrated
“The genetic variants that we have found seem to play a significant role,” says Ohlsson. “It’s the first time that this has been demonstrated, which makes it very interesting.”
The results from the genetic study have been published in the scientific journal PLoS Genetics, and pave the way for further research into the link between testosterone and various disorders such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Professor Claes Ohlsson, Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Tel: +46 (0)31 342 2873
Mobile: +46 (0)706 832 966
Docent Åsa Tivesten, Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Tel: +46 (0)31 342 2913
Mobile: +46 (0)738 005 250
Link to article on genetic markers for low testosterone levels, PloS Genetics:
Link to CHARGE press release:
Link to the article on testosterone and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, JACC: