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Free Content Sirolimus Impairs Gonadal Function in Heart Transplant Recipients

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The impact of sirolimus on hormone levels involved in the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis in male heart transplant recipients was investigated.

A pair-matched analysis with 132 male heart transplant recipients on either sirolimus based- or calcineurin inhibitor-based immunosuppression was performed. Matching criteria were age, years after transplantation and creatinine levels. Measured parameters were testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), sexual hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and free androgen index (FAI).

Mean testosterone was 3.86 ± 1.41 ng/mL in the sirolimus group and 4.55 ± 1.94 ng/mL in the controls (p = 0.025). Serum LH was 12.82 ± 11.19 mlU/mL in the sirolimus patients and 6.2 ± 5.25 mlU/mL in the controls (p = 0.015). Follicle stimulating hormone levels were 13.31 ± 18.4 mlU/mL vs. 7.32 ± 5.53 mlU/mL, respectively (p = 0.015). The analysis revealed a significant decrease in testosterone and a significant increase in FSH and LH in the sirolimus group. The duration of sirolimus treatment correlated positively with SHBG (p < 0.01), LH (p < 0.05) and FSH (p < 0.05) and negative with the FAI (p < 0.05). Sirolimus trough levels correlated with LH and FSH levels (p < 0.01).

Heart transplant recipients treated with sirolimus revealed significantly lower testosterone levels and a significant increase in gonadotropic hormones. These effects were trough-level dependent. All candidates awaiting organ transplantation should be informed about these adverse effects.

Keywords: Adverse effects; heart transplantation; immunosuppression; sirolimus

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Cardiac Surgery 2: Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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