High-dose ketoconazole therapy and adrenal and testicular function in humans

Academic Article


  • Ketoconazole, an oral antifungal, when given in conventional doses, transiently blocks testosterone synthesis and adrenal response to corticotropin. Higher therapeutic doses (ie, 800 to 1,200 mg/day), even once daily, caused more prolonged blockade. In some men, the serum testosterone concentrations were always subnormal. Bound and free testosterone values were equally diminished. Oligospermia and azospermia after prolonged therapy were noted. Impotence and decreased libido were found. Gynecomastia appeared more common than with lower doses. Depressed response to corticotropin was pronounced. Urine cortisol excretion was depressed. The blockade appeared related to the serum ketoconazole concentration. Instances of normal hormone levels or responsiveness were associated with low ketoconazole concentrations. The hormone effects were generally unrelated to duration of therapy, although there may have been partial reversal with continued therapy. These effects appeared reversible with discontinuation of therapy. Patients receiving ketoconazole should be considered potentially unable to mount an adrenal stress response and may require testosterone supplementation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pont A; Graybill JR; Craven PC; Galgiani JN; Dismukes WE; Reitz RE; Stevens DA
  • Start Page

  • 2150
  • End Page

  • 2153
  • Volume

  • 144
  • Issue

  • 11