Testosterone undecanoate in the functional compartments of the male reproductive tract
© SALF et Springer-Verlag France 2009
Received: 10 April 2009
Accepted: 29 August 2009
Published: 7 November 2009
Assessment of testosterone undecanoate’s (TU) presence in the functional compartments of the male reproductive tract has never been performed despite the evidence that its documented beneficial effect in male infertility might be mediated through an epididymal action and this study was set to examine this possibility.
Materials and methods
In 18 normozoospermic volunteers TU has been administered (40 mg t.i.d.) for 6 days with serum measurements of TU, total testosterone (T), DHT, E2, SHBG, FSH, LH, and PRL before and at the end of medication. Steroid hormones (T, E2, and TU) were also assayed in seminal plasma. In a selected group of 7 men with previously diagnosed non-obstructive azoospermia TU, T, and E2 were assayed in the extracts of testicular biopsy material taken before ICSI and at the end of the same medication.
A marked rise of serum DHT (average 148%, P < 0.001) has been found after treatment, whereas T, E2, FSH, LH, SHBG, and PRL did not significantly change. Measurable amounts of TU were found in the serum of all men but only in 6 cases in seminal plasma (11.1 ± 8.0 ng/mL) and all of them in semen delivered 7–8 h after the last TU capsule was taken. In dilution fluid from testicular tissue extracts, no detectable amounts of TU were found whereas mean values of 92.5 ± 54.3 pg/mL and 43.8 ± 16.3 ng/mL for E2 and T were observed. Positive correlations among TU and E2, T or DHT concentrations were found in serum samples (P < 0.01, 0.02, and 0.002) as well as between E2 and T (P < 0.01), E2 and DHT (P < 0.001), or T and DHT (P < 0.001).
It is concluded that TU was identified and measured for the first time in seminal plasma of a fair percentage (33%) of men on this medication and was associated in all men with a marked rise of DHT concentration, a known epididymal function promoter, in the absence of an effect on pituitary and gonadal activity. On this evidence, it appears that a beneficial effect of TU on epididymal function may be a distinct possibility.