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Hypogonadism and methadone: Hypothalamic hypogonadism after long-term use of high-dose methadone

Hypogonadism and methadone: Hypothalamic hypogonadism after long-term use of high-dose methadone

  1. Anonymous
    Endocr Pract. 1996 Jan-Feb;2(1):4-7.
    de la Rosa RE, Hennessey JV.


    OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationship between hypogonadism and long-term administration of high-dose methadone.

    METHODS: We present a case of a 47-year-old man with a history of heroin use and treatment with high doses of methadone (130 mg/day), who complained of gynecomastia and impotence. Baseline levels of serum luteinizing hormone (LH), serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), plasma testosterone, and prolactin were determined, and then the response of gonadotropin levels to stimulation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) was examined at 30, 60, 90, 120, and 180 minutes.

    RESULTS: Basal values of testosterone, LH, and FSH were below normal levels, whereas prolactin was normal. After administration of GnRH, the patient had a suboptimal increase in LH levels and lack of a response of FSH. When the daily dose of methadone was decreased to 40 mg, the patient's libido returned, and LH, FSH, and testosterone levels increased.

    CONCLUSION: These findings could indicate the presence of (1) a direct effect of methadone on the hypothalamus that leads to an alteration in normal gonadotropin pulse patterns, or (2) a selective effect of methadone on the anterior pituitary that alters its response to GnRH, with either mechanism leading to a reversible, dose-related depression of testosterone levels.