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Antiepileptic drugs alter reproductive endocrine hormones in men with epilepsy


Line Sveberg Røste, Department of Neurology, Rikshospitalet, 0027 Oslo, Norway (tel.: +47 230 70281; fax: +47 230 74891; e-mail:


Disturbances of reproductive endocrine hormones are more often found in men with epilepsy than in the general population. There is an ongoing debate whether this can be attributed to chronic use of antiepileptic drugs or to the epilepsy itself. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the degree of endocrine disturbances in men with epilepsy compared with healthy controls, and to investigate whether there was a drug-specific effect of valproate (VPA) or carbamazepine (CBZ). Men with epilepsy, 20–40 years old, having used either VPA (n = 16) or CBZ (n = 19) as monotherapy for >2 years were included and compared with age-matched controls. Men with epilepsy (VPA + CBZ) had significantly lower FSH values and higher C-peptide values compared with controls. Regarding possible drug-specific effects, the VPA treated patients had significantly higher dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) levels and lower FSH and LH concentrations compared with the controls, whereas there were no differences in testosterone, testosterone/sexhormone-binding globulin (SHBG) ratio or androstenedione levels. Men on VPA also had significantly lower free carnitine/total carnitine, which may have implications for sperm motility, and also higher insulin and C-peptide concentrations. The CBZ treated patients had significantly lower testosterone/SHBG ratio than the controls. Compared with the CBZ treated patients, men on VPA had significantly higher DHEAS concentrations and lower levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) as well as a lower free carnitine/total carnitine ratio. A marked age dependency was found in all three groups regarding several of the endocrine hormones. In conclusion, drug-specific endocrine effects of VPA and CBZ were found in men with epilepsy. Long-term VPA treatment leads to significant changes in DHEAS, FSH, LH, insulin, C-peptide and carnitine ratio. Long-term CBZ treatment leads to significant lower testosterone/SHBG ratio. A strict age matching were found to be of importance in the evaluation of endocrine function in men.