Oral testosterone undecanoate in the management of delayed puberty in boys: Pharmacokinetics and effects on sexual maturation and growth

G. E. Butler, R. E. Sellar, R. F. Walker, M. Hendry, C. J H Kelnar, F. C W Wu

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    Therapeutic induction of puberty using oral testosterone (T) undecanoate (TU) 40 mg daily was performed in 4 prepubertal boys aged 12.7-17.1 yr with constitutional delayed puberty and/or short stature. Single-dose pharmacokinetics study was performed on matched plasma and saliva samples obtained half-hourly for 10 h after the first dose and then repeated 3 and 6 months later. Treatment was continued for 15-21 months. Peak plasma total T concentration was achieved at 255 ± 51 (SEM) min after the first 40 mg dose of TU, 300 ± 76 min at 3 months, and 293 ± 103 min at 6 months, the levels remaining elevated above baseline for at least 8 h after a single oral dose. Total T levels were initially high (mean 13.0 ± 2.5; peak 38.7 ± 4.2 nmol/L) but dropped significantly at 3 months (mean 8.3 ± 1.8; peak 23.6 ± 5.6 nmol/L) and at 6 months (mean 9.2 ± 1.6; peak 24.8 ± 3.5 nmol/L) paralleled by a dramatic fall in sex hormone binding globulin (73.9 ± 18.0 to 35.1 ± 9.7 at 3 month and 29.2 ± 6.0 nmol/L at 6 month). Mean concentrations of unbound and free T (non-sex hormone binding globulin-bound T, free T, and salivary T) were below the normal adult range and remained unchanged over the same period. Plasma dihydrotestosterone concentrations were elevated after the first dose (mean 5.4 ± 1.3; peak 11.0 ± 2.5 nmol/L), the extent of this rise being less after 6 months (mean 4.1 ± 0.8; peak 7.1 ± 1.1 nmol/L) as was the case with mean estradiol (51.5 ± 8.9 to 38.1 ± 3.7 pmol/L). Signs of virilization progressed to Tanner stage G3 PH2-3 with testicular volumes increasing to 3-4 mL at 12 months, and G4 PH4-5 with further testicular growth to 6-10 mL at 24 months. Height velocity rose from 3.2 ± 0.3 cm/yr (pretreatment) to 7.2 ± 1.0 cm/yr in the first year and was maintained at 7.3 ± 0.4 cm/yr despite cessation of therapy during the second year. Bone age advanced by 1.1 ± 0.1 yr at 12 months and a further 0.8 ± 0.3 yr at 24 months. Predicted adult height remained unchanged. No side effects were observed. Our preliminary data suggest that oral TU is a well accepted, effective, and safe treatment for the initiation of male puberty without disproportionate skeletal maturation. Continued pubertal advance was evident after cessation of treatment in all patients. A starting dose of 40 mg daily would appear to be satisfactory although dosage adjustments can be conveniently made according to each individual patient's clinical progress.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-44
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1992


    • Administration, Oral
    • Adolescent
    • Aging/physiology
    • Biological Availability
    • Body Height/drug effects/physiology
    • Bone and Bones/physiology
    • Dihydrotestosterone/analysis
    • Estradiol/blood
    • Growth/drug effects
    • Humans
    • Luteinizing Hormone/blood
    • Male
    • Puberty, Delayed/*drug therapy
    • Saliva/chemistry
    • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin/analysis
    • Sexual Maturation/drug effects
    • Testosterone/administration & dosage/*analogs &
    • derivatives/analysis/blood/pharmacokinetics/pharmacology
    • Time Factors


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