Androgens in women after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation: impact of chronic GvHD and glucocorticoid therapy

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Low androgen levels may contribute to sexual dysfunction in women after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (alloHCT). However, data on serum androgens in women after alloHCT are limited. The aim of this study was to assess androgen levels and their association with chronic GvHD (cGvHD) and glucocorticoid (GC) therapy. Included were 65 allografted women, 33 with cGvHD, and 23 of these were on GC therapy. Controls were 94 healthy, age-matched women. Supportive study groups were women after autologous HCT (autoHCT; n = 20) and non-transplanted women on GC therapy (n=26). Compared with controls, free testosterone (free T) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels were lower in both the alloHCT group and GC groups; P<0.0001 and P<0.05, respectively. Androgens in the autoHCT group were similar or higher than controls. In the subgroup of alloHCT patients without cGvHD, free T was similar to controls (7.2 vs 8.6 pmol/L; P=0.42), whereas DHEAS levels was lower than controls (1.7 vs 2.5 μmol/L; P=0.008). Compared with controls, cGvHD without GC (n=10) was associated with lower free T and DHEAS; P=0.004 and P=0.0004, respectively). The lowest androgen levels were seen in women with both cGvHD and GC therapy. In conclusion, low serum androgens were associated with cGvHD and GC therapy, prompting for studies assessing a possible association between low androgens and sexual dysfunction and quality of life in allografted women.

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