That testosterone decreases with age has been clearly established by many studies over many years in several different populations of men (Harman et al 2001; Feldman et al 2002; Araujo et al 2004; Kaufman and Vermeulen 2005). Of even greater significance is the steeper fall of the most biologically active fraction of total testosterone, non-sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)- bound testosterone, or bioavailable testosterone (bio-T). The classical, but not the only approach to measuring bio-T, is to precipitate out SHBG (and hence the testosterone which is strongly bound to it as well) and measure the remainder as total testosterone (Tremblay 2003). Vermeulen et al (1999) have devised a less tedious and less expensive method of measuring a surrogate for bio-T, namely calculated bio-T, inserting total T, albumin, SHBG and a constant into a mathematical formulation. There is a strong correlation between actual bio-T and calculated bio-T (Emadi-Konjin et al 2003).
Both testosterone and 5α-DHT are metabolized mainly in the liver. Approximately 50% of testosterone is metabolized via conjugation into testosterone glucuronide and to a lesser extent testosterone sulfate by glucuronosyltransferases and sulfotransferases, respectively. An additional 40% of testosterone is metabolized in equal proportions into the 17-ketosteroids androsterone and etiocholanolone via the combined actions of 5α- and 5β-reductases, 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, and 17β-HSD, in that order. Androsterone and etiocholanolone are then glucuronidated and to a lesser extent sulfated similarly to testosterone. The conjugates of testosterone and its hepatic metabolites are released from the liver into circulation and excreted in the urine and bile. Only a small fraction (2%) of testosterone is excreted unchanged in the urine.