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Health Information Testosterone Levels Linked to Parkinson's

There may be yet another reason for men to consider keeping an eye on their testosterone levels.

A new study by researchers at Rush showed that a sudden decrease in testosterone (the male sex hormone) may cause symptoms that are connected to Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the nervous system that causes tremors and slow movement. The findings were published in the July issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"In men, low levels of testosterone have already been linked to problems such as loss of sexual function and muscle mass," says Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the study's lead author and a neuroscientist at Rush. "Now we know that preserving healthy testosterone levels in males may be an important step to avoiding Parkinson's disease."

Researchers found that as testosterone levels decreased, nitric oxide levels went up. When too much nitric oxide is produced, neurons — which transmit information throughout the nervous system — may begin to die, leading to symptoms of Parkinson's.

Testosterone therapy is sometimes used to treat problems associated with low levels of the hormone, but it's still too early to say if it would help treat Parkinson's symptoms.

"We're excited by our findings," Pahan says. "If we can build on the results, our hope is that it will help lead to a viable treatment."

Spring 2014

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