Summary: Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are bone marrow-derived cells required for endothelial repair. A low EPC number can be considered as an independent predictor of endothelial dysfunction and future cardiovascular events. Recent evidence shows that patients with hypogonadal symptoms without other confounding risk factors have a low number of circulating progenitor cells (PCs) and EPCs, thus highlighting the role of testosterone in the proliferation and differentiation of EPCs. Here, we investigate if testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can increase circulating EPC number in men with late onset hypogonadism. Forty-six men (age range, 40-73 years; mean age, 58.3 years) with hypogonadal symptoms were recruited, and 29 men with serum total testosterone (TT) levels less than 350 ng/dL received TRT using transdermal testosterone gel (Androgel; 1% testosterone at 5 g/day) for 12 months. Circulating EPC numbers (per 100 000 monocytes) were calculated using flow cytometry. There was no significant association between serum TT levels and the number of circulating EPCs before TRT. Compared with the number of mean circulating EPCs at baseline (9.5 ± 6.2), the number was significantly higher after 3 months (16.6 ± 11.1, p = 0.027), 6 months (20.3 ± 15.3, p = 0.006) and 12 months (27.2 ± 15.5, p = 0.017) of TRT. Thus, we conclude that serum TT levels before TRT are not significantly associated with the number of circulating EPCs in men with late onset hypogonadism. However, TRT can increase the number of circulating EPCs, which implies the benefit of TRT on endothelial function in hypogonadal men.
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