Effects of Testosterone Therapy and Weight Training in Men with Normal Testosterone Levels and AIDS Wasting. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:I-40. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-5-200009050-00005
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(5):I-40.
AIDS wasting is a condition in which persons infected with HIV lose muscle tissue; this loss can lead to poor strength and disability. Testosterone is a natural hormone that helps to build muscle. Several studies have shown that testosterone treatment and weight training can increase body muscle in men with AIDS wasting who have low levels of testosterone. However, it is not known whether testosterone plus weight training would have a similar effect in men who have normal testosterone levels to begin with (men who are “eugonadal”). It is also not known whether weight training alone is helpful in treating AIDS wasting.
To see whether testosterone and weight training, alone or in combination, could help treat men with normal testosterone levels who had AIDS wasting.
The study included 54 men with AIDS wasting whose testosterone levels were normal. The men all weighed less than 90% of their ideal body weight or had lost more than 10% of their usual weight (or both).
The researchers randomly assigned each man in the study to receive testosterone injections (200 mg/wk), participate in a supervised weight training program (three times/per week), both, or neither. To prevent patients from figuring out whether they were getting testosterone or not, the patients who did not get testosterone received placebo injections that contained no active ingredients. The researchers measured body muscle before the treatments began and 12 weeks later. Because testosterone can decrease blood levels of “good” (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) cholesterol, they also measured HDL cholesterol in all of the men.
The amount of muscle increased in response to weight training alone, testosterone alone, or both treatments compared to placebo. The increases in muscle were greatest for patients who received testosterone, but patients who got testosterone also had unfavorable changes in blood levels of HDL cholesterol. Patients who participated in weight training alone had improvements in blood levels of HDL cholesterol.
This study was small and lasted for only 12 weeks. It is unclear what would happen to patients who received these treatments for a longer time. Also, the researchers found improvements in the amount of muscle, but they did not find out whether these improvements made a noticeable difference in patients' quality of life or ability to do things for themselves.
In men with normal testosterone levels who have AIDS wasting, both testosterone treatment and weight training can improve body muscle, but weight training does not produce the potentially unhealthy side effects of testosterone treatment.
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The summary below is from the full report titled “Effects of Testosterone and Progressive Resistance Training in Eugonadal Men with AIDS Wasting. A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” It is in the 5 September 2000 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 133, pages 348-355). The authors are S Grinspoon, C Corcoran, K Parlman, M Costello, D Rosenthal, E Anderson, T Stanley, D Schoenfeld, B Burrows, D Hayden, N Basgoz, and A Klibanski.
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