Muscle wasting is a common ailment in older people. Sure it’s uncommon in young guys, but in general as you age it will be harder and harder to hold onto muscle. It’s something commonly noted in high level bodybuilders as they age. In fact for whatever reason, their massive legs seem to lose size first. To illustrate, take a look at the pictures below comparing the X-Man Toney Freeman from his 2008 5th place Olympia finish, vs. his 2013 15th place Olympia finish. As you may notice, his legs haven’t held up (yeah he’s still the X-Man).
In general prohormones are not used for anti-aging. But the newest study on 11b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11b-HSD) microRNA expression suggestions there might be a valid anti-aging prohormone. 11b-HSD is an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone into the catabolic hormone you know as cortisol (a stress response hormone). 11b-HSD inhibitors are being developed in hopes they can treat a whole variety of diseases, and general cortisol induced aging .
How can the X-Man get back his quad sweep?
The newest study, I previously mentioned, wanted to find out if age induced muscle and strength loss was a result of elevated blood cortisol, increased expression of 11b-HSD, or increased expression of the glucocorticoid receptor (what cortisol binds too). In other words, which of the three is the culprit for Toney Freeman’s reduced quad sweep!
The study was quite simple . They took a group of old men and measured strength, quad size, and cortisol related measures. Then compared the results based on their strength, muscle size, while adjusting for factors such as age. Leg extensions with an isometric hold were the primary tool used to measure strength, and an MRI was completed to measure quad size. Blood cortisol levels were measured in the morning (fasted), and muscle biopsies were used to determine 11b-HSD, and glucocorticoid receptor expression.
The finding were simple, plasma cortisol and urinary cortisol metabolites did not seem to correlate with muscle size and strength. The muscle biopsies told a different story. They found that the old men with higher levels of 11b-HSD expression was associated with lower muscle strength. You might think that overall 11b-HSD expression may also play a role, however the authors note:
“Additionally urinary cortisol:cortisone metabolite ratios, which principally reflect 11bHSD activity in the major organs of liver and kidney, were not associated with muscle strength or size.”
This is where the prohormone 11-ketotestosterone becomes important. 11-ketotestosterone is known to be an 11b-HSD inhibitor, meaning it’s use could potentially prevent age induced loss of muscle strength (and most likely subsequent muscle size). I’m unable to find a reference to support this claim, but the original creator (finder maybe) of 11-ketotesoterone and it’s predecessor 11-oxo (adrenosterone) has said 11-ketotestosterone induced 11b-HSD inhibition is specific to skeletal muscle. The urinary metabolites in this study, showed that age induced strength loss was specific to muscle. So it seems to be (on paper) a perfect fit.
Whether or not using 11-Ketotestosterone is practical for actual anti-aging is unknown. But if you’re an old guy, trying to stave off father time, then this may be your prohormone of choice.