Testosterone therapy could have negative effects, UNTHSC researchers report

October 31, 2013

Rebecca Cunningham, PhD

Testosterone replacement therapy is often prescribed to improve libido and boost energy in men. But for some, the sex hormone can damage brain health, researchers at UNT Health Science Center report.

“Testosterone can be a good and protective hormone in the brain, or it can be bad,” said Rebecca Cunningham, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience at UNT Health Science Center. “Oxidative stress is one variable that can determine whether testosterone protects brains cells or damages them.”

Oxidative stress occurs when there are more free radicals produced in the body than antioxidants, which can lead to cell damage. Oxidative stress is a key component in many brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Free radicals are organic molecules responsible for aging and tissue damage.

“Previous studies have shown that 20 to 28 percent of aging men have no response or a negative response to testosterone therapy,” Dr. Cunningham said. “About the same percentage of Caucasian men in our study also had adverse effects on cognitive dysfunction and inflammation.”

These negative effects were only observed in men with high oxidative stress, said Dr. Cunningham, who will present the research at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in November.

The findings could help physicians determine which patients are most likely to benefit from testosterone replacement therapy using a simple blood test for oxidative stress and testosterone levels, Dr. Cunningham said.

Dr. Sid O’Bryant, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. James Hall, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health; Dr. Meharvan Singh, Chairman and Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience; and Dr. Robert Barber, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, also participated in the research.

default photo
TCOM alum honored for project about home births

By Alex Branch   A UNT Health Science Center graduate won a national leadership award for creating an educational web resource to help patients who are considering a home birth. Chandler Sparks, DO, MPH, a 2018 graduate of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and a Rural Scholar, ...Read more

Oct 15, 2018

default photo
Patient advocate and researcher honored with 2018 Health Literacy Hero award

By Sally Crocker Dr. Teresa Wagner’s own experiences as a mother trying to help her daughters through two life-threatening health scares, misdiagnosis and providers’ failure to recognize critical symptoms ignited her passion to lead the charge for improved patient health literacy and better c...Read more

Oct 11, 2018

Cows
The pets (and people) of UNTHSC

By Jan Jarvis  Whether it’s a feline friend or a gregarious goat, pets play a unique role in people’s lives – including those who work at UNT Health Science Center. Here we feature people from across campus, and the pets that light up their lives. J.D. the bull; Egeenee Daniel...Read more

Oct 10, 2018

Eye Fc
Promising treatment for disease that destroys eye tissue

By Jan Jarvis   Ocular inflammation uveitis is a serious disease that can destroy eye tissue and cause irreversible blindness. Fortunately, blindness and eye damage can be prevented by suppressing the immune system and treating the disease with corticosteroids, said Sai Chavala, MD, Pr...Read more

Oct 9, 2018