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Online First

10.4103/aja202181

Endocrine aberrations of human nonobstructive azoospermia

Yong Tao

Ottawa Fertility Center, 955 Green Valley Crescent, Ottawa, ON K2C 3V4, Canada

Correspondence: Dr. Y Tao (ytao@conceive.ca)

Abstract

Nonobstructive azoospermia (NOA) refers to the failure of spermatogenesis, which affects approximately 1% of the male population and contributes to 10% of male infertility. NOA has an underlying basis of endocrine imbalances since proper human spermatogenesis relies on complex regulation and cooperation of multiple hormones. A better understanding of subtle hormonal disturbances in NOA would help design and improve hormone therapies with reduced risk in human fertility clinics. The purpose of this review is to summarize the research on the endocrinological aspects of NOA, especially the hormones involved in hypothalamic–pituitary–testis axis (HPTA), including gonadotropin-releasing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin, testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone binding globulin, inhibin B, anti-Müllerian hormone, and leptin. For the NOA men associated with primary testicular failure, the quality of currently available evidence has not been sufficient enough to recommend any general hormone optimization therapy. Some other NOA patients, especially those with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, could be treated with hormonal replacement. Although these approaches have succeeded in resuming the fertility in many NOA patients, the prudent strategies should be applied in individuals according to specific NOA etiology by balancing fertility benefits and potential risks. This review also discusses how NOA can be induced by immunization against hormones.

Keywords: endocrine; follicle-stimulating hormone; gonadotropin-releasing hormone; inhibin B; nonobstructive azoospermia; prolactin; sperm retrieval; testosterone

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