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Minerva Medica 2004 June;95(3):243-54


language: Italian

Celiac disease and its endocrine and nutritional implications on male reproduction

Stazi A. V., Mantovani A.


The problem of the interference of celiac disease (CD) with the male reproductive system is made evident both by the recognized adverse effects on female reproduction and by the multifactorial nature of the disease. It is important to consider CD as a multifactorial condition since its diverse effects can be modulated, besides gluten, by different concurrent genetic and environmental factors. The male CD patient has a greater risk of infertility and other reproductive disturbances, as well as a greater incidence of hypoandrogenism. In this paper the problems of CD associated to endocrine disorders and to deficiencies of micronutrients are discussed. Affected males show a picture of tissue resistance to androgens. Moreover, attention should be paid to increases of FSH and prolactin; these are not associated to infertility and/or impotence, but they may indicate an imbalance at hypothalamus-pituitary level, with general effects on health: an example is the increased risk of male osteoporosis in CD patients. Hormone alterations are reversible upon start of the gluten-free diet, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis; this should be performed in the case of clinical suspicion, e.g.,unexplained hypoandrogenism. As regards nutritional aspects, the folic acid deficiency of CD can affect rapidly proliferating tissues, such as the embryo and the seminiferous epithelium. More attention should be paid to deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A and E, observed in CD. Vitamin A is important for Sertoli cell function as well as for early spermatogenetic phases. Vitamin E supports the correct differentiation and function of epidydimal epithelium, spermatid maturation and secretion of proteins by the prostate. Therefore, CD male patients should be considered as vulnerable subjects; thus, the detection of early biomarkers of andrological or endocrinological dysfunctions should trigger timely strategies for prevention and treatment.

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