Reassessing Free-Testosterone Calculation by Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry Direct Equilibrium Dialysis

Tom Fiers, Frederick Wu, Paolo Moghetti, Dirk Vanderschueren, Bruno Lapauw, Jean-marc Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context Assessment of free testosterone (FT) might help evaluate androgen status in patients with borderline total testosterone (T) and/or altered sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) levels. However, the validity of different methods to measure FT is debatable. Methods Serum from 183 women and 146 men was analyzed using equilibrium dialysis (ED), with FT directly measured by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. FT calculation was re-evaluated for the mass action law–based equation according to Vermeulen (cFT-V), empirical equations according to Ly (cFT-L), and a proposed calculation based on a multistep, dynamic, allosteric model according to Zakharov (cFT-Z). Results FT level analyzed by ED [median,13 pmol/L (1.2% of T) in women; 248 pmol/L (1.5% of T) in men] was strongly inversely correlated to SHBG level, significantly to albumin level in women, and only weakly to SHBG level in men. The median [percentile (p) range, 2.5 to 97.5] ratios of calculated FT (cFT) over ED-FT (from European Male Aging Study samples) were 1.19 (0.9 to 1.47), 1.00 (0.69 to 1.42), and 2.05 (1.26 to 3.26) for cFT-V, cFT-L, and cFT-Z, respectively. The ratio for cFT-V was not significantly affected by SHBG, T, or albumin levels (ρ range, 0.17 to −0.01); ratios for cFT-L and cFT-Z were affected (P < 0.05 and P < 0.001, respectively) and strongly correlated with SHBG levels (ρ = 0.72 and 0.75, respectively). Rank correlations between cFT% and ED-FT% (for men) were 0.62, 0.74, and 0.89 for cFT-Z, cFT-L, and cFT-V, respectively. Conclusion FT results by direct ED confirm prior FT data from indirect ED and ultrafiltration methodologies. Calculations have inherent limitations, with clinically important differences among evaluated equations: cFT-V, although overestimating FT level, appears the most robu
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2167-2174
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Issue number6
Early online date29 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Reassessing Free-Testosterone Calculation by Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry Direct Equilibrium Dialysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this