Quantification of testosterone-dependent erythropoiesis during male puberty

Erica Mancera-Soto, Diana Marcela Ramos-Caballero, Jose Magalhaes, Sandra Chaves Gomez, Walter F.J. Schmidt, Edgar Cristancho-Mejía

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15 Scopus citations


New Findings: What is the central question of this study? To what extent does testosterone influence haemoglobin formation during male puberty? What is the main finding and its importance? In boys, testosterone might be responsible for about 65% of the increase in haemoglobin mass during puberty. The underlying mechanisms are assumed to be twofold: (i) indirectly, mediated by the increase in lean body mass, and (ii) directly by immediate testosterone effects on erythropoiesis. Thereby, an increase in testosterone of 1 ng/ml is associated with an increase in haemoglobin mass of ∼65 g. These processes are likely to determine endurance performance in adulthood. Abstract: The amount of haemoglobin during puberty is related to endurance performance in adulthood. During male puberty, testosterone stimulates erythropoiesis and could therefore be used as a marker for later endurance performance. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the relationship between serum testosterone concentration and haemoglobin mass (Hbmass) in both male and female children and adolescents and to evaluate the possible influences of altitude and training. Three-hundred and thirteen differentially trained boys and girls aged from 9 to 18 years and living at altitudes of 1000 and 2600 m above sea level entered the study. The stage of sexual maturation was determined according to the classification of Tanner. Testosterone was measured by ELISA. Hbmass was determined by CO-rebreathing. Haemoglobin concentration did not change during maturation in girls and was 11% higher during puberty in boys, while Hbmass was elevated by 33% in Tanner stage V compared to stage II in girls (498 ± 77 vs. 373 ± 88 g) and by 95% in boys (832 ± 143 vs. 428 ± 95 g). This difference can most likely be attributed to indirect testosterone influences through an increase in lean body mass (LBM) and to direct testosterone effects on erythropoiesis, which increase the Hbmass by ∼65 g per 1 ng/ml. Altitude and training statuses were not associated with testosterone, but with an increase in Hbmass (altitude by 1.1 g/kg LBM, training by 0.8 g/kg LBM). Changes in Hbmass are closely related to testosterone levels during male puberty. Further studies will show whether testosterone and Hbmass during childhood and adolescence can be used as diagnostic tools for endurance talents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1470-1481
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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