Zaima, N., Kinoshita, S., Hieda, N., Kugo, H., Narisawa, K., Yamamoto, A., ... Moriyama, T. (2016, September). Effect of dietary fish oil on mouse testosterone level and the distribution of eicosapentaenoic acid-containing phosphatidylcholine in testicular interstitium. Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports, 7, 259–265. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613343/
The converse is also true; there is an increased incidence of rheumatic/autoimmune disease in men with hypogonadism. Jimenez-Balderas et al (2001) carried out neuroendocrine, genetic and rheumatologic investigations in hypogonadal men. Of the 13 hypogonadal patients, 8 (61%) had rheumatic autoimmune disease (ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythemetosus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis). There is a low frequency of those diseases (0.83%) in the general population.
Testosterone treatment is unequivocally needed in classical hypogonadism for reasons discussed in subsequent subsections. In classical hypogonadism, testosterone production is usually clearly below the lower limit of normal and patients are highly symptomatic; the various symptoms are easily related to the deficiencies in various bodily systems where testosterone action is important. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are listed in Table 2. A few prominent causes of classical hypogonadism are listed in Table 3.
It may also become a treatment for anemia, bone density and strength problems. In a 2017 study published in the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), testosterone treatments corrected anemia in older men with low testosterone levels better than a placebo. Another 2017 study published in JAMA found that older men with low testosterone had increased bone strength and density after treatment when compared with a placebo.
Hooper, D. R., Kraemer, W. J., Saenz, C., Schill, K. E., Focht, B. C., Volek, J. S. … Maresh, C. M. (2017, July). The presence of symptoms of testosterone deficiency in the exercise-hypogonadal male condition and the role of nutrition [Abstract]. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(7), 1349–1357. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28470410
One study found that men who took 3,332 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for one year significantly increased their testosterone levels. But vitamin D supplements may only work for men who are severely deficient in this specific vitamin. Another study found that men without a vitamin D deficiency had no increase in testosterone levels after taking vitamin D.
Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than testosterone, so that its androgenic potency is about 5 times that of T. The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.