Falling levels of sex hormones in older men and women could result in the build-up of a protein thought to trigger Alzheimer’s disease, an Australian researcher said on Monday.

Ralph Martins, a professor of Alzheimer’s and Ageing at Edith Cowan University, said research found that men with lower levels of testosterone had higher levels of beta amyloid protein linked to Alzheimer’s.

Beta amyloid protein is a toxic substance that can kill neurones in areas of the brain that are important for learning and memory, and is widely thought to lead to Alzheimer’s.

“On the other hand, higher levels of testosterone coincide with lower levels of beta amyloid protein and improved cognitive performance,” Martins told the annual meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society in Perth.

Researchers are undertaking a clinical trial among men to determine if testosterone replacement could improve cognitive performance in men whose levels of the hormone had fallen due to ageing or treatment for prostate cancer.

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