The researchers determined that young men given ibuprofen developed compensated hypogonadism, a condition that occurs when males have normal levels of testosterone, but higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), a substance that stimulates the production of testosterone.
Compensated hypogonadism is typically found in elderly men and has been associated with reproductive and physical disorders, according to the researchers. It has also been suggested that compensated hypogonadism be classified as a clinical subgroup of late-onset hypogonadism.
The study also investigated several other hormones produced by the testes that were found to be reduced by ibuprofen. The production of sperm, however, remained unharmed, as genes involved in this process appeared unaffected during the timeframe examined.
While the study sample was a relatively small one, the researchers noted that its findings have been independently confirmed from isolated cells, and earlier studies had suggested potential issues with men’s sexual health and the drug.
Ibuprofen belongs to a group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs, that work by blocking the production of hormone-like signaling molecules called prostaglandins, which theoretically reduces pain and inflammation.
Aspirin, the best-selling NSAID on the U.S. market, was initially linked to stomach problems but was thought to be otherwise safe. Still, the stomach issues were significant enough to prompt drug companies to develop other NSAIDs (Vioxx, Celebrex) for specific purposes.
Meanwhile, other studies were turning up a set of unrelated issues with the reproductive system. Epidemiological studies have shown that NSAID exposure was associated with reduced testosterone and congenital malformations; another study showed a drop in a testosterone metabolite among men who were taking ibuprofen regularly.
The study’s authors noted that additional research needs to be conducted before the link is established as causative.
Source: Ars Technica