The effect of exercise on the production and clearance of testosterone in well trained young men


Tritium-labelled testosterone was infused into four well-trained subjects at rest and during one hour of exercise at about 60% of their maximum aerobic power. This exercise regime led to a mean increase of 27% (range 10–51%) in plasma testosterone concentration. At the same time there were significant decreases in the estimated hepatic plasma flow (EHPF) (45%; range 28–67%), metabolic clearance rate of testosterone (MCRT) (29%; range 18–37%) and plasma volume (8.2%; range 3–10%). The production rate of testosterone decreased by 10% (range 9–22%) but this was not statistically significant. The ratio MCRT: EHPF increased in 3 out of 4 subjects in response to exercise but there was considerable inter-subject variation both at rest and during exercise.

These findings suggest that the exercise-induced elevation of testosterone level is due solely to the reduction in the rate at which testosterone is cleared from the plasma. The principal cause of the reduction in MCRT is probably the reduction in EHPF but the variation in the ratio MCRT: EHPF suggests that changes in the extrahepatic clearance of testosterone may also be involved.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Baird DT, Horton R, Longcope C, Tait JF (1969) Steroid dynamics under steady state conditions. Rec Progr Horm Res 25:611–656

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Brisson GR, Volle MA, Desharnais M, Dion M, Tanako M (1977) Pituitary-gonadal axis in exercising man. Med Sci Sport 9:47

    Google Scholar 

  3. Caesar J, Shaldon S, Chiandussi L, Goevara L, Sherlock S (1961) The use of indocyanine green in the measurement of hepatic blood flow and as a test of hepatic function. Clin Sci 21:43–57

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Dessypris A, Kuopasalmi K, Adlerkreutz H (1976) Plasma cortisol testosterone, androstenedione and luteinising hormone (LH) in a non-competitive marathon run. J Steroid Biochem 7:33–37

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Ishimaru T, Edmiston WA, Pages L, Horton R (1978) Splanchnic extraction and conversion of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 46:528–533

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Keizer HA, Poortman J, Bunnick GSJ (1980) Influence of physical exercise on sex-hormone metabolism. J Appl Physiol 48:765–769

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. De Lignieres B, Plas J-N, Morville R, Commandre F, Viani J-L, Plas F (1976) Variations plasmatique des androgenes et du cortisol au cours des efforts physique prolonges. Med Sport 50:7.127–16.136

    Google Scholar 

  8. Longcope C, Pratt JH, Schneider SH, Fineberg SE (1976) The in vivo metabolism of androgens by muscle and adipose tissue of normal men. Steroids 28:521–533

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Metivier G, Gauthier R, de la Cheurotiere J, Grymala D (1980) The effect of acute exercise on the serum levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone in human male athletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 20:235–238

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Morville R, Pesquies PC, Suezennec CY, Surrurier BD, Guignard M (1979) Plasma variations in testicular and adrenal androgens during prolonged physical exercise in man. Ann Endocrinol 40:501–510

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Rivarola MA, Singleton RT, Migeon CJ (1967) Splanchnic extraction and interconversion of testosterone and androstenedione in man. J Clin Invest 46:2095–2100

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Rowell LB, Blackmon JR, Bruce RA (1964) Indocyanine green clearance and estimated hepatic blood flow during mild to maximum exercise in upright man. J Clin Invest 43:1677–1690

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Sutton JR, Coleman MJ, Casey J, Lazarus L (1973) Androgen response during physical exercise. Br Med J 1:520–522

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Wilkerson JE, Horvath SM, Gutin B (1980) Plasma testosterone during treadmill exercise. J Appl Physiol 49:249–253

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. D. Few.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cadoux-Hudson, T.A., Few, J.D. & Imms, F.J. The effect of exercise on the production and clearance of testosterone in well trained young men. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 54, 321–325 (1985).

Download citation

Key words

  • Testosterone
  • Exercise
  • Liver circulation
  • Metabolic clearance rate
  • Adipose tissue