Pituitary-gonadal function in men with obstructive sleep apnea. The effect of continuous positive airways pressure treatment.

OBJECTIVES: Decreased libido and a decline in morning serum testosterone levels were reported in men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Our study aimed to evaluate the pituitary-gonadal axis in middle age men with OSA before and after treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Measurement of the nocturnal serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone levels and sleep recordings before and after nine months of CPAP treatment in five men with OSA aged 49.5+/-5.2 years. Patients were evaluated during nocturnal sleep at base line and during CPAP treatment. Serum LH and testosterone levels were determined at 20 minutes interval between 1900h and 0700h with concomitant determination of sleep quality, respiration and oxygen saturation.

RESULTS: At base line, patients had higher RDI and PaO2<90%, lower mean and integrated (AUC) values of LH and testosterone. During CPAP treatment, RDI and PaO2<90% were normal. Mean and AUC values of testosterone and LH increased.

CONCLUSIONS: OSA in men is associated with dysfunction of the pituitary-gonadal axis. The central suppression of nocturnal testosterone in these patients is partially corrected during chronic CPAP treatment.

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