Benefits of Testosterone Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

Testosterone Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

The chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after the age of sixty-five. By the time a person reaches eighty-five, the risk rate is roughly fifty percent. These figures make it important to understand if there is a benefit from testosterone therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetics can play a significant role in Alzheimer’s, and the two different gene categories shown below explain how that works: [1]

  • 1. Risk Genes – several genes increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s, the first of which is APOE-e4 (APOE-e2 and APOE-e3 are two others), and individuals who inherit only one copy of APOE-e4 from a parent have an increased risk factor for disease development. People who inherit two copies not only have a much higher risk (although not guaranteed), but they also tend to notice symptoms at an earlier age.
  • 2. Deterministic Genes – accounting for less than five percent of all Alzheimer’s cases, this familial gene guarantees the development of the disease.

What we know about Alzheimer’s is this: a substance (plaque) called beta-amyloid is directly related to the decline and death of brain cells. The connection between testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease regarding beta-amyloid is the way testosterone keeps the plaque from building up in the brain, increasing the rate at which it degrades so that elimination by the body can take place rather than storing it.

The fact that testosterone can reduce the effects of beta-amyloid is what makes it one of the top benefits of testosterone therapy.

Research on the Low Testosterone Link to Alzheimer’s Disease

With the amount of research being done for adults with Alzheimer’s disease, there was bound to be some studies that looked at supplemental testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this first study, 15 patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 17 individuals found to have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) between the ages of 63 and 85 years participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study. 19 participants received 100 mg of testosterone enanthate via weekly intramuscular injections, and the other 13 received a saline placebo for six weeks.

Cognitive evaluations consisting of various neuropsychological tests were conducted:

  1. At baseline
  2. Week 3
  3. Week 6
  4. After 6 weeks of washout

Results: improvements were seen in spatial and verbal memory as well as constructional abilities in the group that received testosterone. There were no documented changes in selective and divided attention or language in either group.

The benefits shown here for the use of testosterone therapy for Alzheimer’s disease are crucial because spatial memory and ability are associated with environmental disorientation (getting lost) – an early sign of AD and one that increases the burden on caregivers. [2]

Does low testosterone cause Alzheimer’s disease?

While no declaration has been made of low testosterone being a definitive cause of AD, research has shown a connection, as in these factors: [3]

  • 1. There may be an association between Low T and vascular (blood vessel) problems that can hinder blood flow to the brain.
  • 2. People with low testosterone blood levels have an increased risk of developing stroke and heart disease – two risk factors for dementia.
  • 3. Testosterone may offer protective benefits for the brain.

Additional studies support the findings for benefits of testosterone for Alzheimer’s disease:

  • A 2010 study: 47 older Chinese men diagnosed with MCI were tested for baseline testosterone levels, and then one year later. At that time, 10 who had previously shown low testosterone blood levels were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. MCI is a developing risk factor for AD.
  • A 2013 study: French researchers determined that low testosterone levels increased dementia risk in men. The findings also showed the risk higher in those over 80 as well as those with higher education levels.
  • A 2013 study: 90 healthy postmenopausal women participated in research done at Monash University in Australia, and were given either testosterone gel or a placebo gel to apply daily following cognitive testing. After 26 weeks of treatment, those women who received testosterone gel demonstrated significant verbal learning and memory improvements.

Can Testosterone Therapy Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is testosterone the magic cure for AD? There is no way of knowing, especially since some studies have not demonstrated the same stellar results.

The answer may lie in future research that examines the different ways people are affected by AD and the benefits of testosterone in each case.

The more we research and learn about testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease, the better able we are to prescribe treatment plans that can help people lead active and healthy lives.

Here are some of the ways researchers believe that testosterone therapy may help

  • Improving vascular blood flow to the brain
  • Reducing the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque
  • Reducing weight and improving glucose uptake – two factors in metabolic syndrome which can contribute to cardiac problems that can lead to cognitive impairment

Ongoing research is the answer for those who inquire about testosterone therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. As of now, we have sufficient evidence to warrant treatment for individuals with AD who also have low testosterone levels.

For more information, or to inquire about testing and treatment for Low T, please contact the hormone specialists at HT Medical Center for a complimentary, confidential consultation.