Male osteoporosis is an increasingly important health problem. It is known that sex steroid hormones play an important role in regulating bone turnover and bone mass in males as well as in females. However, the exact mechanism of bone loss in men remains unknown. In the present study, 200 elderly men (age range, 55-85 yr) were followed for 4 yr to evaluate the relationships between hormone levels, bone turnover markers, bone mineral density, and rates of bone loss. Femoral and lumbar bone mineral density, bone ultrasound parameters at the os calcis, serum testosterone (T), serum estradiol (E2), SHBG levels, and bone turnover markers (urinary crosslaps and bone alkaline phosphatase) were evaluated for each man at enrollment and 4 yr afterward. The free androgen index (FAI) and free estrogen index (FEI) as well as measures of the bioavailable sex hormones [calculated bioavailable E2 (c-bioE2) and T (c-bioT)] were calculated from total hormone levels and SHBG. In the total population, T, c-bioT, c-bioE2, FAI, and FEI, but not E2, decreased significantly with age, whereas SHBG increased significantly. Subjects with FEI, c-bioE2, and E2 levels below the median showed higher rates of bone loss at the lumbar spine and the femoral neck as well as higher speed-of-sounds decrease at the calcaneus with respect to men with FEI, c-bioE2, and E2 levels above the median. Serum bone alkaline phosphatase and urinary crosslaps were significantly higher in men with FEI, c-bioE2, and E2 in the lower quartile than in men with FEI, c-bioE2, and E2 levels in the higher quartile. No statistically significant differences were observed in relation to T, c-bioT, or FAI levels. Finally, the ratio between E2 and T, an indirect measure for aromatase activity, increased significantly with age and was higher in normal than in osteoporotic subjects. In conclusion, results from the present study indicate an important role of estrogens, and particularly of the ability to aromatize T to E2, in the regulation of bone loss and bone metabolism in elderly men.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism