Bone and muscle protective potential of the prostate-sparing synthetic androgen 7α-methyl-19-nortestosterone: Evidence from the aged orchidectomized male rat model

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This study reports the preclinical evaluation of the bone and muscle protective potential of the synthetic androgen 7α-methyl-19- nortestosterone (MENT™), as assessed in the aged orchidectomized rat model. Aged (13-month-old) orchidectomized Wistar rats were treated with different doses of MENT (4, 12 or 36 μg/day) subcutaneously for 16 weeks via mini-osmotic pumps. Analysis of the effects of androgen deficiency versus MENT replacement was performed using quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and biochemical markers of bone turnover. At the end of the study period, prostate weight in orchidectomized rats treated with low- (4 μg/day) or mid-dose (12 μg/day) MENT remained significantly lower compared to the sham-operated animals (-47% and -25%, respectively). High-dose MENT (36 μg/day), on the other hand, induced prostate hypertrophy (+21% versus sham). Low-, mid- and high-dose MENT were found to be effective in suppressing the acceleration of bone remodeling following orchidectomy, as assessed by osteocalcin and deoxypyridinoline. In addition, low-, mid- and high-dose were able to prevent the orchidectomy-induced bone loss, as evaluated by DEXA at the femur and total-body and by pQCT at the femur. Compared to sham-operated animals, the low- and mid-dose MENT groups showed no decline in lean body mass and no muscle atrophy (as measured by m. quadriceps weight) at 16 weeks, whereas high-dose MENT was associated with a significant decline in lean body mass (-8.5% versus sham) and quadriceps weight (-10.6%). We conclude that, in the aged orchidectomized rat model, low- and mid-doses of the synthetic androgen MENT have bone and muscle protective effects and do not induce prostate hypertrophy. The bone protective action of high-dose MENT, however, occurs at the expense of muscle wasting and prostate hypertrophy. Our findings support the need for human studies to explore the potential of MENT as an option for androgen replacement in aging men.