Testosterone levels in men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with or without glucocorticoid therapy

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Under the clinical impression that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may demonstrate signs compatible with hypogonadism, we investigated whether oral glucocorticoid therapy is associated with testosterone deficiency. Thirty six men with COPD of whom 16 were receiving oral glucocorticoid medication (mean+/-SEM dose 9.4+/-1.1 mg prednisolone) were investigated in a cross-sectional cohort study. Patients with or without oral glucocorticoid therapy were not different in terms of age, smoking history and additional therapy. Vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second, airway resistance, intrathoracic gas volume and blood gases at rest were not different between the groups. However, patients receiving glucocorticoids had a shorter 6 min walking distance (mean+/-SEM 205+/-27 versus 288+/-26 m; p=0.02) compared to patients without oral steroid therapy. Serum levels of testosterone (mean+/-SEM 13.7+/-0.9) were below normal (<12 nM) in 15 of 36 patients. Serum testosterone did not correlate with any other evaluated parameter. Serum levels of free testosterone (free T) (mean+/-SEM 172.3+/-7.8 pM) were decreased in 25 of the 36 patients, including all patients receiving glucocorticoid treatment. In the 16 patients taking glucocorticoids free T was correlated (p=0.016) with the current glucocorticoid dosage (r=-0.504; p=0.007) and the body mass index (r=0.241; p=0.037). All other parameters examined revealed no significant correlations in multiple regression analysis. Glucocorticoid treatment appears to aggravate hypogonadism and a therapeutic study using testosterone in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease receiving glucocorticoid medication appears warranted.




Kamischke, A., Kemper, D. E., Castel, M. A., Lüthke, M., Rolf, C., Behre, H. M., … Nieschlag, E. (1998). Testosterone levels in men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with or without glucocorticoid therapy. European Respiratory Journal, 11(1), 41–45. https://doi.org/10.1183/09031936.98.11010041

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