Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a genetic disorder characterized by 21-hydroxylase deficiency, impairs male fertility, if insufficiently treated.
A 30-year-old male was referred to our clinic for endocrine and fertility assessment after undergoing unilateral orchiectomy for a suspected testicular tumor. Histopathological evaluation of the removed testis revealed atrophy and testicular adrenal rest tumors (TARTs) and raised the suspicion of underlying CAH. The remaining testis was also atrophic (5 ml) with minor TARTs. Serum 17-hydroxyprogesterone levels were elevated, cortisol levels were at the lower limit of normal range, and gonadotropins at prepubertal levels, but serum testosterone levels were within the normal adult range. Semen analysis revealed azoospermia. CAH was confirmed by a homozygous mutation g.655A/C>G (IVS2-13A/C>G) in CYP21A2. Hydrocortisone (24 mg/m2) administered to suppress ACTH and adrenal androgen overproduction unmasked deficient testicular testosterone production. As azoospermia persisted due to sustained hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a combined s.c. gonadotropin replacement with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (1500 IU twice weekly) and FSH (human menopausal gondadotropin (hMG) 150 IU three times weekly) was initiated.
Normalization of testosterone levels and a stable low sperm concentration (0.5 mill/ml) with good sperm motility (85% A+B progressive) were achieved within 21 months of treatment. Despite persisting TARTs, while receiving treatment, the patient successfully impregnated his wife twice, the latter impregnation leading to the birth of a healthy girl.
TARTs in unrecognized (simple virilizing) CAH may lead to unnecessary orchiectomy. In hypogonadotropic, azoospermic CAH, a combined treatment with oral corticosteroids and subcutaneously administered hCG and FSH can successfully restore testicular testosterone production and fertility, even if only one hypoplastic and atrophic testis with adrenal rest tumors is present.