Background: Testosterone binds to androgen receptors, which can be found abundantly in the hippocampus. Associations between testosterone levels and visuospatial memory have been reported, albeit with inconsistent results. Previous studies have used point sampling of testosterone levels (blood, saliva) rather than long-term secretion measures. Hair analysis for steroids allows for retrospective ascertainment of cumulative steroid measures over several months. We examined hair testosterone and its association with verbal and visuospatial memory in middle-aged men and women with and without major depression. Methods: We examined a total of 73 middle-aged individuals (35 depressed patients, and 38 age-, sex- and education-matched healthy subjects). We tested verbal (Auditory Verbal Learning Task) and visuospatial (Rey figure) memory and measured testosterone in the hair by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Results: Hair testosterone levels did not differ between patients and controls (mean 1.35pg/mg vs. 1.40pg/mg, SD 0.61 and 0.80, respectively). In men (n=24) but not women (n=49), hair testosterone was associated with visuospatial memory in a multiple regression analysis after controlling for age, education, body mass index, and depression (adjusted R2=0.56). Conclusions: With the new method of testosterone measurement in hair allowing for long-term cumulative ascertainment of testosterone secretion, we extend recent results of a male-specific role for testosterone in visuospatial memory.
- Cognitive function