Androgen Synthesis in the Gonadotropin-Suppressed Human Testes Can Be Markedly Suppressed by Ketoconazole

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

The concentration of intratesticular testosterone (IT-T) required for human spermatogenesis is unknown because spermatogenesis can persist despite the markedly reduced IT-T concentrations observed with LH suppression. Methods to lower IT-T further are needed to determine the relationship between IT-T and spermatogenesis.

The objective of the study was to determine the effect of inhibiting the synthesis and metabolism of testosterone (T) on IT-T in gonadotropin-suppressed human testes.

Forty normal men participated in a blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial at an academic center.

All men were first administered the GnRH antagonist acyline to suppress LH. Forty-eight hours after acyline administration, subjects were randomly assigned to placebo, ketoconazole (to inhibit T synthesis) at 400 or 800 mg, dutasteride (to inhibit T metabolism) 2.5 mg, or anastrazole (to inhibit T metabolism) 1 mg, daily for 7 days (n = 8/group). Intratesticular steroid concentrations were measured 48 hours after acyline administration alone and again after 7 days of combination treatment.

After 7 days of combination treatment, the median IT-T (25th, 75th percentile) in the placebo group was 14 (8.0, 21.2) ng/mL. IT-T was reduced to 3.7 (2.5, 7.1) ng/mL in the ketoconazole 400 mg group and 1.7 (0.8, 4.0) ng/mL in the ketoconazole 800 mg group (P < .001 vs placebo for both comparisons). IT-T concentrations in the dutasteride and anastrazole groups were similar to placebo.

Combining inhibition of steroidogenesis with gonadotropin suppression lowers IT-T more than gonadotropin suppression alone. This combination might be useful to determine the minimum IT-T concentration necessary for human spermatogenesis, information essential for developing male hormonal contraceptives.