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Br J Rheumatol. 1988 Dec;27(6):440-4.

Prolonged hypogonadism in male patients with rheumatoid arthritis during flares in disease activity.

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  • 1University Department of Medicine, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow.


The pituitary-gonadal axis was assessed in 10 male patients during hospital admissions lasting 3-6 weeks (median 3 weeks) for flares for rheumatoid arthritis. Despite significant improvements in the Ritchie indices from median 16 (range 9-23) to 8.5 (range 5-20) (p less than 0.01) and ESR from median 67 mm/h (range 46-115 mm/h) to 58 mm/h (range 15-116 mm/h) (p less than 0.05) there were no significant changes in serum testosterone, LH, FSH, prolactin (PRL), cortisol or androstenedione during the admission periods. At follow-up (median 14 months, range 5-18 months after admission) there were further improvements in articular indices (median 7, range 3-13; p = NS) and ESR (median 20 mm/h, range 4-62 mm/h; p less than 0.05) and rheumatoid factor titres had fallen from median 1/1025 (range 1/126 to 1/1024) to median 1/512 (range 1/64 - 1/512). One patient showed biochemical features of progressive testicular failure. In the remaining patients, serum and derived free testosterone levels were significantly increased (p less than 0.01 respectively) and serum LH reduced (p less than 0.01). There were no changes, at this time, in prolactin, cortisol or androstenedione. Rheumatoid flares appear to be associated with prolonged suppression of testicular function.

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