Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors and Male Fertility: Should Fertility Preservation Options Be Considered before Treatment?

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Abstract

In recent years, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have become a viable option for many cancer patients, including specific subgroups of pediatric patients. Despite their efficiency in treating different types of cancer, ICIs are responsible for a number of immune-related adverse events, including inflammatory toxicities, that can affect several organs. However, our knowledge of the impact of ICIs on the testis and male fertility is limited. It is possible that ICI treatment affects testicular function and spermatogenesis either directly or indirectly (or both). Treatment with ICIs may cause increased inflammation and immune cell infiltration within the seminiferous tubules of the testis, disturbing spermatogenesis or testosterone deficiency (primary hypogonadism). Additionally, the interference of ICIs with the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis may alter testosterone production, affecting testicular function (secondary hypogonadism) and spermatogenesis. This review provides an overview of the available evidence on the potential association between ICIs and the disruption of spermatogenesis, with special focus on ICIs targeting cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1). Moreover, it highlights the need for further investigations and encourages the discussion of associated risks and fertility-preservation considerations between clinicians and patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1176
Number of pages16
JournalCancers
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2024

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© 2024 by the authors.

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