Testosterone Use and Abuse : Methodological Aspects in Forensic Toxicology and Clinical Diagnostics

Abstract: Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is widespread in society and is today a major public health problem, associated with mental and somatic adverse effects and risk behavior, such as use of other illicit drugs and criminality. Testosterone, the most important endogenous male androgen, is therapeutically used in replacement therapy but is also extensively used as a doping agent. Traditionally, testosterone abuse is detected in urine in forensic cases and in serum in clinical diagnosis and monitoring, and free bioavailable serum testosterone is calculated by formulas. Salivary testosterone is however an attractive biomarker, as testosterone in saliva is supposed to reflect free testosterone in serum. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the abuse of AAS from a forensic perspective, particularly focusing on testosterone and methodological problems and potential alternative matrices for measurements of testosterone in forensic and clinical assessments. In the first study the toxicological findings in individuals suspected of doping offences, registered in the Swedish national forensic toxicology database were investigated (paper I). In paper II, testosterone levels in serum, saliva, and urine in clinical patients during replacement therapy with testosterone undecanoate (Nebido®) were studied. Further, the sensitivity of the current procedure for detection of testosterone abuse was investigated by method comparison using isotope ratio measurement (paper III) and a quantitative LC-MS/MS method for testosterone in serum and saliva was developed and presented (paper IV). It was found that testosterone was most frequently detected in the forensic cases and co-abuse of narcotics was common among AAS abusers. Methodological problems in detection of testosterone abuse using the present procedures was identified, indicating a need for new analytical strategies. A sensitive and highly specific LC-MS/MS method was developed for determination of testosterone in serum and saliva, which was shown suitable for analysis of forensic and clinical samples. Salivary testosterone was shown to correlate well with free serum testosterone in both male and female, and a sensitive marker in testosterone therapy, especially in females. In conclusion, it was found that saliva might have a potential as an alternative matrix for detection of illicit administration of testosterone and for diagnosis and monitoring of androgenic status. 

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