Hormonal replacement therapy with HCG and HU-FSH in thalassaemic patients affected by hypogonadotropic hypogonadism

Mariangela Cisternino, Silvia Magni Manzoni, Eliana Coslovich, Michele Autelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gonadotropin (Gn) replacement therapy using HCG plus HU-FSH was administered to 24 patients affected by beta-thalassaemia major with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism aged 18-40 years (25.2 ± 5.4 yr, m ± SEM). The age range at the start of treatment was 14.5-24.5 years (16.7 ± 2.6 yr); the mean duration of Gn treatment was 8.6 ± 3.9 years (range 1-15.2 yr). Gn therapy was begun with HCG alone, the dosage being initially 500 IU twice a week and then increased to a maximum of 3000 IU twice a week, according to the individual serum testosterone levels obtained. HU-FSH (75 IU twice a week) was added to initiate spermatogenesis in all cases when the HCG- induced testosterone serum levels normalized. The duration of HU-FSH treatment ranged from 1-2 years and then therapy was continued with HCG alone. In nine patients Gn therapy was discontinued after 6-14 years and was replaced by testosterone' depot therapy, 75-100 mg i.m. twice a month, for a period ranging from 1-1.5 years. Using Gn therapy, the testosterone levels normalized. The compliant patients obtained good virilization and normal sexual function; testicular volume increased within the normal adult range and spermatogenesis was achieved. When Gn therapy was replaced by testosterone-depot therapy, a marked decrease in testicular volume and sperm count was observed, but the patients complied better and showed a slight increase in coarse hair. In conclusion gonadotropins are an effective replacement therapy for male hypogonadism in thalassaemic patients. If we consider the advantages and disadvantages of this therapy, the former seem to outweigh the latter. Finally, it should be emphasized that physicians caring for these patients must foster compliance during frequent check-ups and examinations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-890
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Gonadotropin therapy
  • HCG
  • HU-FSH
  • Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
  • Thalassaemia major

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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