The present investigation tests the clinical hypothesis that Leydig-cell responsiveness to pulsatile and midphysiological LH drive is impaired in older men. To this end, we implemented a novel clinical investigative paradigm consisting of preadministration of an LH-down-regulating dose (3.75 mg) of leuprolide acetate followed, 3-4 wk later, by controlled challenge of the testis, with pulsatile iv infusions of saline vs. recombinant human (rh) LH. Based on a preliminary dosefinding experiment, we evaluated LH action in 8 young (ages, 18-25 yr) and 7 older (ages, 60-85 yr) volunteers by infusing eight consecutive 6-rain squarewave pulses of saline or 50 IU rhLH iv every 2 h. Analyses were carried out 48 or 72 h apart in a prospective, randomly assigned, double-blind, within-subject cross-over design. Serum concentrations of T (RIA) and LH (immunoradiometric assay) were measured in blood sampled every 10 rain concurrently. Leuprolide injection suppressed pre-LH-infusion (0800 h baseline) serum T concentrations (pooled mean ± SEM) markedly in both age groups (P < 10-3); namely, to 40 ± 20 ng/dl (young) and 12 ± 3.1 ng/dl (older; P < 0.05 vs. young) (to convert to nM, multiply by 0.0347). Successive iv pulses of rhLH stimulated T output, over time, to an asymptotic maximum of 166 ± 42 ng/dl in young men (P = 0.0008 vs. saline) and 57 ± 9.8 ng/dl in older subjects (P = NS vs. saline, and P < 0.05 vs. young). Further regression analyses identified significant reductions of both the initial rate and maximum of the time-dependent incremental rise in LH-driven serum T concentrations in older men. In contrast, infused serum LH concentrations, distribution volumes, and calculated LH half-lives were comparable in the two age cohorts. We conclude that older men manifest both a delayed initial and reduced maximal serum T concentration rise compared with young men exposed to identical controlled midphysiological pulsatile LH drive.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical