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.

Rita Fc
Women’s networking group started by TCOM leader earns national award

By Steven Bartolotta In 2007, TCOM’s Dr. Rita Patterson and Dr. Jennifer Wayne, a professor at Virginia Tech, recognized the need for women in the field of bioengineering to meet together, network, mentor and increase the representation of women in the field. Thus the ASME Bioengineering...Read more

Jun 23, 2021

Dr. Sid O'Bryant
Early findings of innovative study of Alzheimer’s among diverse populations available to dementia researchers

  A growing trove of data to help scientists understand the biology of Alzheimer’s disease among diverse populations within the context of sociocultural, behavioral and environmental factors is now available through the Institute for Translational Research at The University of North Te...Read more

Jun 22, 2021

Vic Holmes, Mpas, Edd, Pa C Assistant Professor
HSC Pride: Increased pronoun use is an emerging trend among health professionals

By Diane Smith-Pinckney The embroidery on Vic Holmes’ black scrubs identify him as a physician assistant and an ally to LGBTQ+ patients. The words, stitched under a rainbow-colored Caduceus pin and near his heart, read: “Vic Holmes, PA-C, He/Him/His, Family Medicine.” Pronouns are...Read more

Jun 21, 2021

Hsc Katie Pelch
Public health scientist lends expertise to national database addressing safer use of chemicals in our environment

By Sally Crocker Katie Pelch, PhD, wants you to know what’s in our environment and how the chemicals we’re exposed to every day may affect our health. Dr. Pelch is a part-time Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, in the HSC School of Public Health (SPH), where...Read more

Jun 21, 2021