Testosterone, Free and Weakly Bound, With Total Testosterone, LC/MS-MS

Create a Free Account to View Prices

Turnaround Time: 4-6 days
CPT Code:


Test Type: 2 ml Serum
Stability Time:



Room temperature

7 days


7 days


Free and weakly bound testosterone (FWBT), also referred to as bioavailable testosterone, is thought to reflect an individual's biologically active, circulating testosterone. FWBT includes free testosterone and testosterone that is bound to albumin. FWBT does not include sex hormone-binding globulin-bound testosterone. The SHBG-bound fraction is biologically inactive because of the high binding affinity of SHBG for testosterone. The rapid dissociation of "weakly bound" testosterone from albumin results in the availability of essentially all albumin-bound testosterone for steroid-receptor interaction.1

This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by LabCorp. It has not been cleared or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Free and weakly bound (bioavailable) testosterone measurement involves the selective precipitation of SHBG with ammonium sulfate. Tritiated testosterone is added to serum, which is then allowed to come to equilibrium at physiologic temperature. Testosterone bound to SHBG is then selectively precipitated with 50% ammonium sulfate, leaving free and albumin-bound testosterone in solution. The percentage of tritiated label not bound to SHBG is multiplied by the total testosterone to produce the bioavailable testosterone.

Elevated levels of FWBT are observed in female hirsutism.2 The measurement of free and weakly bound testosterone in women, when used in conjunction with the assay of the DHEA-S and SHBG, can be used to establish etiology of hirsutism. In males, decreased serum concentrations are associated with hypogonadism. FWBT levels tend to increase during pregnancy but have been found to remain below the upper limit of the reference interval.3 Total testosterone levels in women decrease by approximately 30% after menopause.4 Administration of exogenous estrogens has the physiologic effect of increasing SHBG concentrations and suppressing the production of androgens by the ovary.4 This results in a net decrease in FWBT. Decreased FWBT levels have been associated with diminished libido4 and loss of bone density.5 FWBT levels in males fall with age6 at a rate that exceeds that of total testosterone and parallels the drop in DHEA sulfate. This decrease is thought to be caused by diminished testicular production and not due to hypothalamic/pituitary insufficiency.7 Decreased FWBT was not, however, found to correlate with diminished potency.8 Since SHBG has been found to increase with age, the FWBT level may be a more reliable indicator of testosterone production than total testosterone.

1. Pardridge WM. Transport of protein-bound hormones into tissues in vivo. Endocr Rev. 1981; 2(1):103-123 (review). PubMed 7028469

2. Cumming DC, Wall SR. Nonsex hormone-binding globulin-bound testosterone as a marker for hyperandrogenism. J Clin Metabol. 1985; 61(5):873-876. PubMed 4044776

3. Kerlan V, Nahoul K, Le Martelot MT, et al. Longitudinal study of maternal plasma bioavailable testosterone and androstanediol glucuronide levels during pregnancy. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1994; 40(2):263-267. PubMed 8137527

4. Davis SR, Burger HG. Use of androgens in postmenopausal women. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 1997; 9(3):177-180 (review). PubMed 9263701

5. Jassal SK, Barret-Connor E, Edelstein SL. Low bioavailable testosterone levels predict future height loss in postmenopausal women. J Bone Miner Res. 1995; 10(4):650-654. PubMed 7610937

6. Morley JE, Kaiser F, Raum WJ, et al. Potentially predictive and manipulable blood serum correlates of aging in the healthy male: Progressive decreases in bioavailable testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and the ratio of insulin-like growth factor 1 to growth hormone. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1997; 94(14):7537-7542. PubMed 9207127

7. Nahoul K, Roger M. Age-related decline of plasma bioavailable testosterone in adult men. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1990; 35(2):293-299. PubMed 2106599

8. Korenman SG, Morley JE, Mooradian AD, et al. Secondary hypogonadism in older men: Its relation to impotence. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1990; 71(4):963-969. PubMed 2205629

Collection Details:

Collection Instructions:

Red-top tube or gel-barrier tube.

Serum should be transferred from cells within one hour of collection and transferred to a plastic transport tube.