Reduction in Circulating Testosterone Relates to Exercise Capacity in Men With Chronic Heart Failure

Ewa A. Jankowska, Gerasimos Filippatos, Beata Ponikowska, Ludmila Borodulin-Nadzieja, Stefan D. Anker, Waldemar Banasiak, Philip A. Poole-Wilson, Piotr Ponikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We investigated whether anabolic deficiency was linked to exercise intolerance in men with chronic heart failure (CHF). Anabolic hormones (testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, insulin-like growth factor 1 [IGF1]) contribute to exercise capacity in healthy men. This issue remains unclear in CHF. Methods and Results: We studied 205 men with CHF (age 60 ± 11 years, New York Heart Association [NYHA] Class I/II/III/IV: 37/95/65/8; LVEF [left ventricular ejection fraction]: 31 ± 8%). Exercise capacity was expressed as peak oxygen consumption (peak VO2), peak O2 pulse, and ventilatory response to exercise (VE-VCO2 slope). In multivariable models, reduced peak VO2 (and reduced peak O2 pulse) was associated with diminished serum total testosterone (TT) (P <.01) and free testosterone (eFT; estimated from TT and sex hormone globulin levels) (P <.01), which was independent of NYHA Class, plasma N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, and age. These associations remained significant even after adjustment for an amount of leg lean tissue. In multivariable models, high VE-VCO2 slope was related to reduced serum IGF1 (P <.05), advanced NYHA Class (P <.05), increased plasma NT-proBNP (P <.0001), and borderline low LVEF (P = .07). In 44 men, reassessed after 2.3 ± 0.4 years, a reduction in peak VO2 (and peak O2 pulse) was accompanied by a decrease in TT (P <.01) and eFT (P ≤ .01). Increase in VE-VCO2 slope was related only to an increase in plasma NT-proBNP (P <.05). Conclusions: In men with CHF, low circulating testosterone independently relates to exercise intolerance. The greater the reduction of serum TT in the course of disease, the more severe the progression of exercise intolerance. Whether testosterone supplementation would improve exercise capacity in hypogonadal men with CHF requires further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiac Failure
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • anabolic hormones
  • Chronic heart failure
  • exercise intolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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