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Epic Code LAB8390 Testosterone, Total, Bioavailable, and Free, Serum

Additional Codes

Mayo Code: TTFB

Epic Code: LAB 8390

Interface Order Alias: 11465

Cerner: 2805

Reporting Name

Testosterone, Total, Bio, Free, S

Performing Laboratory

Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester

Clinical Information

Testosterone is the major androgenic hormone. It is responsible for the development of the male external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. In female patients, its main role is as an estrogen precursor. In both sexes, it also exerts anabolic effects and influences behavior. 

 

In men, testosterone is secreted by the testicular Leydig cells and, to a minor extent, by the adrenal cortex. In premenopausal women, the ovaries are the main source of testosterone with minor contributions by the adrenals and peripheral tissues. After menopause, ovarian testosterone production is significantly diminished. Testosterone production in testes and ovaries is regulated via pituitary-gonadal feedback involving luteinizing hormone (LH) and, to a lesser degree, inhibins and activins. 

 

Most circulating testosterone is bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which, in men, also is called testosterone-binding globulin. A lesser fraction is albumin bound and a small proportion exists as free hormone. Historically, only free testosterone was thought to be the biologically active component. However, testosterone is weakly bound to serum albumin and dissociates freely in the capillary bed, thereby becoming readily available for tissue uptake. All non-SHBG-bound testosterone is therefore considered bioavailable. 

 

During childhood, excessive production of testosterone induces premature puberty in boys and masculinization in girls. In women, excess testosterone production results in varying degrees of virilization, including hirsutism, acne, oligo-amenorrhea, or infertility. Mild-to-moderate testosterone elevations are usually asymptomatic in male patients but can cause distressing symptoms in female patients. The exact causes for mild-to-moderate elevations in testosterone often remain obscure. Common causes of pronounced elevations of testosterone include genetic conditions (eg, congenital adrenal hyperplasia); adrenal, testicular, and ovarian tumors; and abuse of testosterone or gonadotrophins by athletes. 

 

Decreased testosterone in female patients causes subtle symptoms. These may include some decline in libido and nonspecific mood changes. In male patients, it results in partial or complete degrees of hypogonadism. This is characterized by changes in male secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive function. The cause is either primary or secondary/tertiary (pituitary/hypothalamic) testicular failure. In men, there also is a gradual modest, but progressive, decline in testosterone production starting between the fourth and sixth decades of life. Since this is associated with a simultaneous increase of SHBG levels, bioavailable testosterone may decline more significantly than apparent total testosterone, causing nonspecific symptoms similar to those observed in testosterone deficient women. However, severe hypogonadism, consequent to aging alone, is rare.

 

 Measurement of total testosterone (TTST / Testosterone, Total, Mass Spectrometry, Serum) is often sufficient for diagnosis, particularly if it is combined with measurements of LH and follicle-stimulation hormone (FSH) (LH / Luteinizing Hormone [LH], Serum and FSH / Follicle-Stimulating Hormone [FSH], Serum). However, these tests may be insufficient for diagnosis of mild abnormalities of testosterone homeostasis, particularly if abnormalities in SHBG (SHBG1 / Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin, Serum) function or levels are present. Additional measurements of free testosterone or bioavailable testosterone are recommended in this situation; bioavailable testosterone (see TTBS / Testosterone, Total and Bioavailable, Serum) is the preferred assay.

Useful For

Second- or third-order test for evaluating testosterone status (eg, when abnormalities of sex hormone-binding globulin are present)

Specimen Type

Serum Red
Laboratory Test Directory Note:

COLLECTION NOTE: Volumes listed are in serum or plasma, draw approximately 2 1/2 times the requested volume in whole blood.


Ordering Guidance


The preferred test for diagnosis of mild abnormalities of testosterone homeostasis, particularly if abnormalities in sex hormone-binding globulin function or levels are present, is TTBS / Testosterone, Total and Bioavailable, Serum.



Necessary Information


Patient's age and sex are required.



Specimen Required


Collection Container/Tube: Red top (serum gel/SST are not acceptable)

Submission Container/Tube: Plastic vial

Specimen Volume: 3.5 mL

Collection Instructions: Centrifuge and aliquot serum into plastic vial


Specimen Minimum Volume

2 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Serum Red Refrigerated (preferred) 14 days
  Frozen  60 days

Reject Due To

Gross hemolysis Reject
Gross lipemia Reject
Gross icterus Reject

Day(s) Performed

Monday through Saturday

Reference Values

TESTOSTERONE, TOTAL

Males

0-5 months: 75-400 ng/dL

6 months-9 years: <7-20 ng/dL

10-11 years: <7-130 ng/dL

12-13 years: <7-800 ng/dL

14 years: <7-1,200 ng/dL

15-16 years: 100-1,200 ng/dL

17-18 years: 300-1,200 ng/dL

≥19 years: 240-950 ng/Dl

Tanner Stages*

I (prepubertal): <7-20

II: 8-66

III: 26-800

IV: 85-1,200

V (young adult): 300-950

 

Females

0-5 months: 20-80 ng/dL

6 months-9 years: <7-20 ng/dL

10-11 years: <7-44 ng/dL

12-16 years: <7-75 ng/dL

17-18 years: 20-75 ng/dL

≥19 years: 8-60 ng/dL

Tanner Stages*

I (prepubertal): <7-20

II: <7-47

III: 17-75

IV: 20-75

V (young adult): 12-60 

*Puberty onset (transition from Tanner stage I to Tanner stage II) occurs for boys at a median age of 11.5 (±2) years and for girls at a median age of 10.5 (±2) years. There is evidence that it may occur up to 1 year earlier in obese girls and in African American girls. For boys, there is no definite proven relationship between puberty onset and body weight or ethnic origin. Progression through Tanner stages is variable. Tanner stage V (young adult) should be reached by age 18.

 

TESTOSTERONE, FREE

Males (adult):

20-<25 years: 5.25-20.7 ng/dL

25-<30 years: 5.05-19.8 ng/dL

30-<35 years: 4.85-19.0 ng/dL

35-<40 years: 4.65-18.1 ng/dL

40-<45 years: 4.46-17.1 ng/dL

45-<50 years: 4.26-16.4 ng/dL

50-<55 years: 4.06-15.6 ng/dL

55-<60 years: 3.87-14.7 ng/dL

60-<65 years: 3.67-13.9 ng/dL

65-<70 years: 3.47-13.0 ng/dL

70-<75 years: 3.28-12.2 ng/dL

75-<80 years: 3.08-11.3 ng/dL

80-<85 years: 2.88-10.5 ng/dL

85-<90 years: 2.69-9.61 ng/dL

90-<95 years: 2.49-8.76 ng/dL

95-100+ years: 2.29-7.91 ng/dL

 

Males (children):

<1 year: Term infants

1-15 days: 0.20-3.10 ng/dL*

16 days-1 year: Values decrease gradually from newborn (0.20-3.10 ng/dL) to prepubertal levels

*J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1973;36(6):1132-1142

 

1-8 years: <0.13 ng/dL

9 years: <0.13-0.45 ng/dL

10 years: <0.13-1.26 ng/dL

11 years: <0.13-5.52 ng/dL

12 years: <0.13-9.28 ng/dL

13 years: <0.13-12.6 ng/dL

14 years: 0.48-15.3 ng/dL

15 years: 1.62-17.7 ng/dL

16 years: 2.93-19.5 ng/dL

17 years: 4.28-20.9 ng/dL

18 years: 5.40-21.8 ng/dL

19 years: 5.36-21.2 ng/dL

 

Females (adult):

20-<25 years: <0.13-1.08 ng/dL

25-<30 years: <0.13-1.06 ng/dL

30-<35 years: <0.13-1.03 ng/dL

35-<40 years: <0.13-1.00 ng/dL

40-<45 years: <0.13-0.98 ng/dL

45-<50 years: <0.13-0.95 ng/dL

50-<55 years: <0.13-0.92 ng/dL

55-<60 years: <0.13-0.90 ng/dL

60-<65 years: <0.13-0.87 ng/dL

65-<70 years: <0.13-0.84 ng/dL

70-<75 years: <0.13-0.82 ng/dL

75-<80 years: <0.13-0.79 ng/dL

80-<85 years: <0.13-0.76 ng/dL

85-<90 years: <0.13-0.73 ng/dL

90-<95 years: <0.13-0.71 ng/dL

95-100+ years: <0.13-0.68 ng/dL

 

Females (children):

<1 year: Term infants

1-15 days: <0.13-0.25 ng/dL*

16 days-1 year: Values decrease gradually from newborn (<0.13-0.25 ng/dL) to prepubertal levels

*J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1973;36(6):1132-1142

 

1-4 years: <0.13 ng/dL

5 years: <0.13 ng/dL

6 years: <0.14 ng/dL

7 years: <0.13-0.23 ng/dL

8 years: <0.13-0.34 ng/dL

9 years: <0.13-0.46 ng/dL

10 years: <0.13-0.59 ng/dL

11 years: <0.13-0.72 ng/dL

12 years: <0.13-0.84 ng/dL

13 years: <0.13-0.96 ng/dL

14 years: <0.13-1.06 ng/dL

15-18 years: <0.13-1.09 ng/dL

19 years: <0.13-1.08 ng/dL

 

TESTOSTERONE, BIOAVAILABLE

Males

≤19 years: Not established

20-29 years: 83-257 ng/dL

30-39 years: 72-235 ng/dL

40-49 years: 61-213 ng/dL

50-59 years: 50-190 ng/dL

60-69 years: 40-168 ng/dL

≥70 years: Not established

 

Females (non-oophorectomized)

≤19 years: Not established

20-50 years (on oral estrogen): 0.8-4.0 ng/dL

20-50 years (not on oral estrogen): 0.8-10 ng/dL

>50 Years: Not established

Interpretation

Total testosterone and general interpretation of testosterone abnormalities:

 

In male patients:

Decreased testosterone levels indicate partial or complete hypogonadism. Serum testosterone levels are usually below the reference range. The cause is either primary or secondary/tertiary (pituitary/hypothalamic) testicular failure.

 

Primary testicular failure is associated with increased luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, and decreased total, bioavailable, and free testosterone levels. Causes include:

-Genetic causes (eg, Klinefelter syndrome, XXY males)

-Developmental causes (eg, testicular maldescent)

-Testicular trauma or ischemia (eg, testicular torsion, surgical mishap during hernia operations)

-Infections (eg, mumps)

-Autoimmune diseases (eg, autoimmune polyglandular endocrine failure)

-Metabolic disorders (eg, hemochromatosis, liver failure)

-Orchidectomy

 

Secondary/tertiary hypogonadism, also known as hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, shows low testosterone and low, or inappropriately "normal," LH/FSH levels; causes include:

-Inherited or developmental disorders of hypothalamus and pituitary (eg, Kallmann syndrome, congenital hypopituitarism)

-Pituitary or hypothalamic tumors

-Hyperprolactinemia of any cause

-Malnutrition or excessive exercise

-Cranial irradiation

-Head trauma

-Medical or recreational drugs (eg, estrogens, gonadotropin releasing hormone [GnRH] analogs, cannabis)

 

Increased testosterone levels:

-In prepubertal boys, increased levels of testosterone are seen in precocious puberty. Further workup is necessary to determine the cause of precocious puberty

-In adult men, testicular or adrenal tumors or androgen abuse might be suspected if testosterone levels exceed the upper limit of the normal range by more than 50%.

 

Monitoring of testosterone replacement therapy:

Aim of treatment is normalization of serum testosterone and LH. During treatment with depot-testosterone preparations, trough levels of serum testosterone should still be within the normal range, while peak levels should not be significantly above the normal young adult range.

 

Monitoring of antiandrogen therapy:

Aim is usually to suppress testosterone levels to castrate levels or below (no more than 25% of the lower reference range value).

 

In female patients:

Decreased testosterone levels may be observed in primary or secondary ovarian failure, analogous to the situation in men, alongside the more prominent changes in female hormone levels. Most women with oophorectomy have a significant decrease in testosterone levels.

 

Increased testosterone levels may be seen in:

-Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: non-classical (mild) variants may not present in childhood but during or after puberty. In addition to testosterone, multiple other androgens or androgen precursors are elevated, such as 17 hydroxyprogesterone (OHPG / 17-Hydroxyprogesterone, Serum), often to a greater degree than testosterone.

-Prepubertal girls: analogous to boys, but at lower levels, increased levels of testosterone are seen in precocious puberty.

-Ovarian or adrenal neoplasms: high estrogen values also may be observed, and LH and FSH are low or "normal." Testosterone-producing ovarian or adrenal neoplasms often produce total testosterone values greater than 200 ng/dL.

-Polycystic ovarian syndrome: hirsutism, acne, menstrual disturbances, insulin resistance and, frequently, obesity, form part of this syndrome. Total testosterone levels may be normal or mildly elevated and, uncommonly, greater than 200 ng/dL.

 

Monitoring of testosterone replacement therapy:

The efficacy of testosterone replacement in females is under study. If it is used, total testosterone levels should be kept within the normal range for females at all times. Bioavailable or free testosterone levels also should be monitored to avoid overtreatment.

 

Monitoring of antiandrogen therapy:

Antiandrogen therapy is most commonly employed in the management of mild-to-moderate "idiopathic" female hyperandrogenism, as seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome. Total testosterone levels are a relatively crude guideline for therapy and can be misleading. Therefore, bioavailable or free testosterone also should be monitored to ensure treatment adequacy. However, there are no universally agreed biochemical endpoints and the primary treatment end point is the clinical response. 

 

Bioavailable and Free Testosterone:

Usually, bioavailable and free testosterone levels parallel the total testosterone levels. However, a number of conditions and medications are known to increase or decrease the SHBG (SHBG1 / Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin, Serum) concentration, which may cause total testosterone concentration to change without necessarily influencing the bioavailable or free testosterone concentration, or vice versa:

-Treatment with corticosteroids and sex steroids (particularly oral conjugated estrogen) can result in changes in SHBG levels and availability of sex-steroid binding sites on SHBG. This may make diagnosis of subtle testosterone abnormalities difficult.

-Inherited abnormalities in SHBG binding.

-Liver disease and severe systemic illness.

-In pubertal boys and adult men, mild decreases of total testosterone without LH abnormalities can be associated with delayed puberty or mild hypogonadism. In this case, either bioavailable or free testosterone measurements are better indicators of mild hypogonadism than determination of total testosterone levels.

-In polycystic ovarian syndrome and related conditions, there is often significant insulin resistance, which is associated with low SHBG levels. Consequently, bioavailable or free testosterone levels may be more significantly elevated.

 

Either bioavailable or free testosterone should be used as supplemental tests to total testosterone in the above situations. The correlation coefficient between bioavailable and free testosterone (by equilibrium dialysis) is 0.9606. However, bioavailable testosterone is usually the preferred test, as it more closely reflects total bioactive testosterone, particularly in older men. Older men not only have elevated SHBG levels, but albumin levels also may vary due to coexisting illnesses.

Cautions

Early morning testosterone levels in young male individuals are, on average, 50% higher than p.m. levels. Reference values were established using specimens collected in the morning.

 

Testosterone levels can fluctuate substantially between different days, and sometimes even more rapidly. Assessment of androgen status should be based on more than a single measurement.

 

The low end of the normal reference range for total testosterone in prepubertal subjects is not yet established.

 

While free testosterone can be used for the same indications as bioavailable testosterone, determination of bioavailable testosterone levels may be superior to free testosterone measurement in most situations.

Clinical Reference

1. Manni A, Pardridge WM, Cefalu W, et al: Bioavailability of albumin-bound testosterone. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1985 Oct;61(4):705- 710. doi: 10.1210/jcem-61-4-705.

2. New MI, Josso N: Disorders of gonadal differentiation and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1988;17(2):339-366

3. Dumesic DA: Hyperandrogenic anovulation: a new view of polycystic ovary syndrome. Postgrad Obstet Gynecol. 1995 June;15(13)

4. Morley JE, Perry HM 3rd: Androgen deficiency in aging men: role of testosterone replacement therapy. J Lab Clin Med. 2000 May;135:370-378. doi: 10.1067/mlc.2000.106455

5. Goldman AL, Bhasin S, Wu FCW, et al: A reappraisal of testosterone's binding in circulation: physiological and clinical implications. Endocr Rev. 2017;38(4):302-324. doi: 10.1210/er.2017-00025

Method Name

FRTST: Equilibrium Dialysis/ Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)

TTST: Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)

BATS: Differential Precipitation

Method Description

Total Testosterone:

Deuterated stable isotope (d3-testosterone) is added to a 0.2-mL serum sample as an internal standard. Protein is precipitated from the mixture by the addition of acetonitrile. The testosterone and internal standard are extracted from the resulting supernatant by an online extraction utilizing high-throughput liquid chromatography. This is followed by conventional liquid chromatography and analysis on a tandem mass spectrometer equipped with a heated nebulizer ion source.(Wang C, Catlin DH, Demers LM, et al: Measurement of total testosterone in adult men: comparison of current laboratory methods versus liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Feb;89(2)::534-543; Taieb J, Mathian B, Millot F, et al: Testosterone measured by 10 immunoassays and by isotope-dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in sera from 116 men, women, and children. Clin Chem. 2003 Aug;49:1381-1395)

 

Free Testosterone:

This method utilizes equilibrium dialysis to analyze and determine the host serum’s binding capacity for testosterone. Patient sample is placed inside a dialysis well which is immersed in dialysis buffer. The sample is dialyzed. During buffered dialysis, any testosterone which is unbound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) or albumin is free to pass through the semi-permeable dialysis membrane while those testosterone molecules bound to the binding proteins will be held inside the membrane. After dialysis, the buffered dialysate is analyzed for free testosterone by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.(Bhasin S, Ozimek N: Optimizing diagnostic accuracy and treatment decisions in men with testosterone deficiency. Endocr Pract. 2021 Dec;27(12):1252-1259. doi: 10.1016/j.eprac.2021.08.002)

 

 

Bioavailable Testosterone:

The method is based on the differential precipitation of SHBG by ammonium sulfate following equilibration of the serum specimen and tracer amounts of tritium-labeled testosterone. The results are expressed as the percent of testosterone free or albumin bound (not precipitated with SHBG) compared to an albumin standard. The product of this percentage and the total testosterone measurement is the total bioavailable testosterone.(Wheeler MJ: The determination of bio-available testosterone. Ann Clin Biochem. 1995 Jul;32(Pt 4):345-357. doi: 10.1177/000456329503200401)

Report Available

3 to 5 days

Test Classification

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information

84402

84403

84410

LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
TTFB Testosterone, Total, Bio, Free, S 58716-2

 

Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
82978 Testosterone, Bioavailable, S 2990-0
3631 Testosterone Free 2991-8
8533 Testosterone, Total, S 2986-8

Profile Information

Test ID Reporting Name Available Separately Always Performed
TTST Testosterone, Total, S Yes Yes
FRTST Testosterone, Free, S No Yes
BATS Testosterone, Bioavailable, S No Yes