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Classes and predictors of reversal in male patients with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism: a cross-sectional study of six international referral centres.

BACKGROUND: Although some male patients with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (CHH) undergo spontaneous reversal following treatment, predictors of reversal remain elusive. We aimed to assemble the largest cohort of male patients with CHH reversal to date and identify distinct classes of reversal.

METHODS: This multicentre cross-sectional study was conducted in six international CHH referral centres in Brazil, Finland, France, Italy, the UK, and the USA. Adult men with CHH (ie, absent or incomplete spontaneous puberty by age 18 years, low serum testosterone concentrations, and no identifiable cause of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal [HPG] axis dysfunction) were eligible for inclusion. CHH reversal was defined as spontaneous recovery of HPG axis function off treatment. Centres provided common data elements on patient phenotype, clinical assessment, and genetics using a structured, harmonised data collection form developed by COST Action BM1105. Latent class mixture modelling (LCMM) was applied to establish whether at least two distinct classes of reversal could be identified and differentially predicted, and results were compared with a cohort of patients without CHH reversal to identify potential predictors of reversal. The primary outcome was the presence of at least two distinct classes of reversal.

FINDINGS: A total of 87 male patients with CHH reversal and 108 without CHH reversal were included in the analyses. LCMM identified two distinct reversal classes (75 [86%] in class 1 and 12 [14%] in class 2) on the basis of mean testicular volume, micropenis, and serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentration. Classification probabilities were robust (0·998 for class 1 and 0·838 for class 2) and modelling uncertainty was low (entropy 0·90). Compared with class 1, patients in class 2 had significantly larger testicular volume (p<0·0001), no micropenis, and higher serum FSH concentrations (p=0·041), consistent with the Pasqualini syndrome (fertile eunuch) subtype of CHH. Patients without CHH reversal were more likely to have anosmia (p=0·016), cryptorchidism (p=0·0012), complete absence of puberty (testicular volume <4 cm³; p=0·0016), and two or more rare genetic variants (ie, oligogenicity; p=0·0001). Among patients who underwent genetic testing, no patients (of 75) with CHH reversal had a rare pathogenic ANOS1 variant compared with ten (11%) of 95 patients without CHH reversal. Individuals with CHH reversal had a significantly higher rate of rare variants in GNRHR than did those without reversal (nine [12%] of 75 vs three [3%] of 95; p=0·025).

INTERPRETATION: Applying LCMM to a large cohort of male patients with CHH reversal uncovered two distinct classes of reversal. Genetic investigation combined with careful clinical phenotyping could help surveillance of reversal after withdrawing treatment, representing the first tailored management approach for male patients with this rare endocrine disorder.

FUNDING: National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; Ministry of Health, Rome, Italy; Ministry of University, Rome, Italy; National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and the Josiah Macy Jr Foundation.

TRANSLATION: For the Italian translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.

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