Testosterone deficiency in non-cancer opioid-treated patients

The use of opioids in patients with chronic non-cancer pain is common and can be associated with opioid-induced androgen deficiency (OPIAD) in men. This review aims to evaluate the current literature regarding the prevalence, clinical consequence and management of OPIAD.

A database search was performed in Medline, Embase and Cochrane using terms such as "analgesics", "opioids" and "testosterone". Relevant literature from January 1969 to March 2018 was evaluated.

The prevalence of patients with OPIAD ranges from 19 to 86%, depending on the criteria for diagnosis of hypogonadism. The opioid-induced suppression of gonadotropin-releasing and luteinizing hormones represents the main important pathogenetic mechanisms. OPIAD has significant negative clinical consequences on sexual function, mood, bone density and body composition. In addition, OPIAD can also impair pain control leading to hyperalgesia, which can contribute to sexual dysfunction and mood impairment.

OPIAD is a common adverse effect of opioid treatment and contributes to sexual dysfunction, impairs pain relief and reduces overall quality of life. The evaluation of serum testosterone levels should be considered in male chronic opioid users and the decision to initiate testosterone treatment should be based on the clinical profile of individuals, in consultation with the patient.

Journal of endocrinological investigation. 2018 Oct 20 [Epub ahead of print]

F Coluzzi, D Billeci, M Maggi, G Corona

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Latina, Italy., Neurosurgical Department, ULSS2 Treviso Hospital, University of Padua, Treviso, Italy., Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences, Sexual Medicine and Andrology Unit, University of Florence, Florence, Italy., Endocrinology Unit, Medical Department, Azienda Usl di Bologna, Maggiore-Bellaria Hospital, Largo Nigrisoli 2, 40133, Bologna, Italy. .