5α-dihydrotestosterone (5α-DHT) is the most potent natural androgen. 5α-DHT elicits a multitude of physiological actions, in a host of tissues, including prostate, seminal vesicles, hair follicles, skin, kidney, and lacrimal and meibomian glands. However, the physiological role of 5α-DHT in human physiology, remains questionable and, at best, poorly appreciated. Recent emerging literature supports a role for 5α-DHT in the physiological function of liver, pancreatic b-cell function and survival, ocular function and prevention of dry eye disease and kidney physiological function. Thus, inhibition of 5α-reductases with finasteride or dutasteride to reduce 5α-DHT biosynthesis in the course of treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or male pattern hair loss, known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA) my induces a novel form of tissue specific androgen deficiency and contributes to a host of pathophysiological conditions, that are yet to be fully recognized. Here, we advance the concept that blockade of 5α-reductases by finasteride or dutasteride in a mechanism-based, irreversible, inhabitation of 5α-DHT biosynthesis results in a novel state of androgen deficiency, independent of circulating testosterone levels. Finasteride and dutasteride are frequently prescribed for long-term treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH and in men with AGA. This treatment may result in development of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), insulin resistance (IR), type 2 diabetes (T2DM), dry eye disease, potential kidney dysfunction, among other metabolic dysfunctions. We suggest that long-term use of finasteride and dutasteride may be associated with health risks including NAFLD, IR, T2DM, dry eye disease and potential kidney disease.
The world journal of men's health. 2020 Mar 20 [Epub ahead of print]
Abdulmaged M Traish
Department of Urology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. .