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Clinical Investigation
February 9, 2000

Oral Androstenedione Administration and Serum Testosterone Concentrations in Young Men

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Endocrine Unit, Department of Medicine (Drs Leder and Finkelstein), and Department of Biostatistics (Dr Schoenfeld), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Departments of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester (Dr Longcope); and Olympic Analytical Laboratory, Departments of Medicine (Dr Catlin) and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology (Dr Catlin and Mr Ahrens), University of California, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 2000;283(6):779-782. doi:10.1001/jama.283.6.779

Context Androstenedione, a steroid hormone and the major precursor to testosterone, is available without prescription and is purported to increase strength and athletic performance. The hormonal effects of androstenedione, however, are unknown.

Objective To determine if oral administration of androstenedione increases serum testosterone levels in healthy men.

Design Open-label randomized controlled trial conducted between October 1998 and April 1999.

Setting General clinical research center of a tertiary-care, university-affiliated hospital.

Participants Forty-two healthy men aged 20 to 40 years.

Intervention Subjects were randomized to receive oral androstenedione (either 100 mg/d [n = 15] or 300 mg/d [n = 14]) or no androstenedione (n = 13) for 7 days.

Main Outcome Measures Changes in serum testosterone, androstenedione, estrone, and estradiol levels, measured by frequent blood sampling, compared among the 3 treatment groups.

Results Mean (SE) changes in the area under the curve (AUC) for serum testosterone concentrations were −2% (7%), −4% (4%), and 34% (14%) in the groups receiving 0, 100, and 300 mg/d of androstenedione, respectively. When compared with the control group, the change in testosterone AUC was significant for the 300-mg/d group (P<.001) but not for the 100-mg/d group (P = .48). Baseline testosterone levels, drawn 24 hours after androstenedione administration, did not change. Mean (SE) changes in the AUC for serum estradiol concentrations were 4% (6%), 42% (12%), and 128% (24%) in the groups receiving 0, 100, and 300 mg/d of androstenedione, respectively. When compared with the control group, the change in the estradiol AUC was significant for both the 300-mg/d (P<.001) and 100-mg/d (P = .002) groups. There was marked variability in individual responses for all measured sex steroids.

Conclusions Our data suggest that oral androstenedione, when given in dosages of 300 mg/d, increases serum testosterone and estradiol concentrations in some healthy men.