Effect of atorvastatin on testosterone levels

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Abstract

Background: Statins are one of the most prescribed classes of drugs worldwide. Atorvastatin, the most prescribed statin, is currently used to treat conditions such as hypercholesterolaemia and dyslipidaemia. By reducing the level of cholesterol, which is the precursor of the steroidogenesis pathway, atorvastatin may cause a reduction in levels of testosterone and other androgens. Testosterone and other androgens play important roles in biological functions. A potential reduction in androgen levels, caused by atorvastatin might cause negative effects in most settings. In contrast, in the setting of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), reducing excessive levels of androgens with atorvastatin could be beneficial. Objectives: Primary objective. To quantify the magnitude of the effect of atorvastatin on total testosterone in both males and females, compared to placebo or no treatment. Secondary objectives. To quantify the magnitude of the effects of atorvastatin on free testosterone, sex hormone binding globin (SHBG), androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) concentrations, free androgen index (FAI), and withdrawal due to adverse effects (WDAEs) in both males and females, compared to placebo or no treatment. Search methods: The Cochrane Hypertension Information Specialist searched the following databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) up to 9 November 2020: the Cochrane Hypertension Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); MEDLINE; Embase;two international trials registries, and the websites of the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Patent Office and the Pfizer pharmaceutical corporation. These searches had no language restrictions. We also contacted authors of relevant articles regarding further published and unpublished work. Selection criteria: RCTs of daily atorvastatin for at least three weeks, compared with placebo or no treatment, and assessing change in testosterone levels in males or females. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened the citations, extracted the data and assessed the risk of bias of the included studies. We used the mean difference (MD) with associated 95% confidence intervals (CI) to report the effect size of continuous outcomes,and the risk ratio (RR) to report effect sizes of the sole dichotomous outcome (WDAEs). We used a fixed-effect meta-analytic model to combine effect estimates across studies, and risk ratio to report effect size of the dichotomous outcomes. We used GRADE to assess the certainty of the evidence. Main results: We included six RCTs involving 265 participants who completed the study and their data was reported. Participants in two of the studies were male with normal lipid profile or mild dyslipidaemia (N = 140); the mean age of participants was 68 years. Participants in four of the studies were female with PCOS (N = 125); the mean age of participants was 32 years. We found no significant difference in testosterone levels in males between atorvastatin and placebo, MD -0.20 nmol/L (95% CI -0.77 to 0.37). In females, atorvastatin may reduce total testosterone by -0.27 nmol/L (95% CI -0.50 to -0.04), FAI by -2.59 nmol/L (95% CI -3.62 to -1.57), androstenedione by -1.37 nmol/L (95% CI -2.26 to -0.49), and DHEAS by -0.63 μmol/l (95% CI -1.12 to -0.15). Furthermore, compared to placebo, atorvastatin increased SHBG concentrations in females by 3.11 nmol/L (95% CI 0.23 to 5.99). We identified no studies in healthy females (i.e. females with normal testosterone levels) or children (under age 18). Importantly, no study reported on free testosterone levels. Authors' conclusions: We found no significant difference between atorvastatin and placebo on the levels of total testosterone in males. In females with PCOS, atorvastatin lowered the total testosterone, FAI, androstenedione, and DHEAS. The certainty of evidence ranged from low to very low for both comparisons. More RCTs studying the effect of atorvastatin on testosterone are needed.

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Shawish, M. I., Bagheri, B., Musini, V. M., Adams, S. P., & Wright, J. M. (2021, January 22). Effect of atorvastatin on testosterone levels. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013211.pub2

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