Testosterone therapy in HIV wasting syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis

Anthony Kong, Polly Edmonds

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Many HIV patients develop weight loss, which increases morbidity and mortality. We aimed to assess the effects of testosterone therapy on lean body mass, total body weight, over-all exercise functional capacity, and perceived quality of life in patients with HIV wasting syndrome and its adverse effects. We systematically reviewed randomised, placebo-controlled trials that compared the effects of testosterone therapy with placebo in HIV patients with wasting. Eight trials met the inclusion criteria and 417 randomised patients were included. Only six trials used lean-body mass, fat-free mass, or body-cell mass as outcome measures. The meta-analysis of the six trials showed a difference in the lean body mass between the testosterone group and placebo group of 1.22 kg (95% CI 0.23-2.22) for the random effect model and 0.51 kg (0.09-0.93) for fixed effect. However, the difference was much greater in the three trials that used the intramuscular route-3.34 kg in the post-hoc analysis. All eight trials included total body weight as an outcome measure, the meta-analysis of which showed a difference of 1.04 kg (-0.01-2.10) between testosterone group and placebo group by random effect and 0.63 kg (-0.01-1.28) for fixed effect models. Over-all, the incidence of adverse effects is similar in both groups. Testosterone therapy has been shown in this review to increase lean body mass more than placebo. The increase is even greater if the therapy is given intramuscularly. There is also a small positive effect in total body weight. The study is, however, limited by the small numbers and heterogeneity of the population, which potentially introduced bias into the methods and results. Testosterone therapy may be considered in patients with HIV wasting syndrome to reverse muscle loss, but there is a concern about the adverse metabolic effects of long-term testosterone administration and long-term follow-up for these patients is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-9
Number of pages8
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002


  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • HIV Wasting Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Testosterone
  • Treatment Outcome


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