Androgens and bone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Testosterone is the major gonadal sex steroid produced by the testes in men. Testosterone is also produced in smaller amounts by the ovaries in women. The adrenal glands produce the weaker androgens dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and androstenedione. These androgens collectively affect skeletal homeostasis throughout life in both men and women, particularly at puberty and during adult life. Because testosterone can be metabolized to estradiol by the aromatase enzyme, there has been controversy as to which gonadal sex steroid has the greater skeletal effect. The current evidence suggests that estradiol plays a greater role in maintenance of skeletal health than testosterone, but that androgens also have direct beneficial effects on bone. Supraphysiological levels of testosterone likely have similar effects on bone as lower levels via direct interaction with androgen receptors, as well as effects mediated by estrogen receptors after aromatization to estradiol. Whether high doses of synthetic, non-aromatizable androgens may, in fact, be detrimental to bone due to suppression of endogenous testosterone (and estrogen) levels is a potential concern that warrants further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-305
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Androgen receptor
  • Androgens
  • DHEA
  • Osteoporosis
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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