SAM-e causes rise in testosterone
We came across this article by accident: over twenty years old and a test tube study at that, but nevertheless interesting. The article reports French biologists' discovery that testosterone-producing Leydig cells release more testosterone if you expose them to a compound which is also available on the market: S-adenosyl-methionine, the active ingredient in supplements such as SAM-e.
S-Adenosyl-methionine [structure shown below] is a methyl donor. In the human body the molecule gives methyl groups to other compounds. How this works exactly is not yet clearly understood, but users of S-adenosyl-methionine experience relief from depression and weak joints become stronger. The same S-adenosyl-methionine may also be a testosterone booster, the French experiments suggest.
The researchers knew already that the testes' production of testosterone increases, the more of the hormone LH attaches itself to its receptor in the Leydig cells. They also knew that the methylation of phospholipids is important in the transmission of the signal from the LH receptor. And it just so happens that that's exactly what S-adenosyl-methionine is good at.
Hence the experiment.
Study & results
The researchers introduced S-adenosyl-methionine into Leydig cells from the testes of rats and first looked at what happened to the attachment of LH to its receptor. They observed that S-adenosyl-methionine caused more hormone to attach to its receptor. The researchers also observed that the cells manufactured more cAMP. cAMP is a secondary messenger – a compound that functions as a messenger between an activated receptor on the cell membrane and the rest of the cell.
S-adenosyl-methionine also increased the manufacture of testosterone, as you can see below.
At very high concentrations – which by the way you could never achieve by taking supplements – the production of testosterone starts to decrease again.
When the researchers repeated their experiments, but with Leydig cells that they had added LH to, they made another discovery. The lower the concentration of LH, the greater the effect of S-adenosyl-methionine [in a concentration of 1.4 milliMol] on the production of testosterone. But even at high concentrations of LH, the effect of S-adenosyl-methionine was still noticeable.
It's tempting to speculate about what ergonauts could do with this research. Is SAM-e perhaps an interesting supplement to use during a course of anabolic steroids, to prevent endogenous production of testosterone from decreasing too much? Is it perhaps an alternative to hormone replacement therapy?
J Steroid Biochem. 1987 Jan;26(1):93-8.