Background: Despite the high prevalence of frailty among patients receiving hemodialysis, few preventable or treatable contributing causes have been identified. Hypogonadism is also common in this population and low serum testosterone concentrations share several clinical phenotypes with frailty. We hypothesized that low serum testosterone concentrations would be associated with frailty and several of its individual components.Methods: We used data from 440 men from A Cohort Study To Investigate the Value of Exercise in ESRD/Analysis Designed to Investigate the Paradox of Obesity and Survival in ESRD, a longitudinal study that recruited participants from 14 dialysis centers in Atlanta, GA and the San Francisco, CA Bay Area from 2009 to 2011. We assessed frailty using the Fried Frailty Phenotype. We examined the association between free testosterone (as a continuous and dichotomous variable) and frailty, individual frailty components, sarcopenia, lower extremity function and muscle mass estimation by creatinine and body impedance spectroscopy over 12months using generalized estimating equations.Results: The mean age was 56.1±14.2 years and 27% were white. A 50% lower concentration of free testosterone was associated with 1.40-fold higher odds of being frail [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05-1.53] and 1.40-fold higher odds of becoming frail over 12months (95% CI 1.07-1.73). This association was mainly due to an association with two components of frailty: grip strength and gait speed. In addition, 50% lower free testosterone concentration was associated with a 1.55-fold higher odds of having sarcopenia (95% CI 1.09-2.02) and 1.72-fold higher odds for developing sarcopenia (95% CI 1.13-2.33) as well as with lower muscle mass and a decrease in muscle mass over 12months as estimated by serum creatinine and by bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy.Conclusion: Serum free testosterone concentration was associated with frailty, physical function, sarcopenia and muscle mass as well as with changes in these outcomes over 12months. Testosterone replacement may be a feasible therapeutic target toward prevention of frailty, although clinical trials are needed to test this possibility.
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