Giovanni Monastra, Mónica Vazquez-Levin, Maria Salome Bezerra Espinola, Gabriele Bilotta, Antonio Simone Laganà & Vittorio Unfer

Background: Androgen deficiency affects men in the adulthood, causing several harmful effects at the reproductive and behavioural levels. Since aromatase is an enzyme that catalyses the conversion of androgens to estrogens, and it is responsible for an adequate balance of both sex hormones in males and females, the administration of molecules acting as down modulators may contribute to restore an abnormal enzymatic activity. A prospective pilot study was carried out to investigate the effect of D-chiro-inositol, a putative aromatase down-modulator, on serum levels of testosterone, estradiol, estrone, dehydroepiandrosterone and epiandrosterone from a group of adult male volunteers. Glucose, insulin, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, inhibin B, D-chiro-inositol and myo-inositol serum levels were also measured.

Results: Male volunteers were selected according to age and body mass index. Subjects with altered glycemia and/or hormonal status, due to advanced age or abnormal weight, were enrolled in the study. Each of the 10 volunteers enrolled took oral D-chiro-inositol (1 g/day) for 1 month. Serum assays of selected markers were performed at baseline (control) and after treatment. D-chiro-inositol administration was associated to reduced serum levels of estrone (− 85.0%) and estradiol (− 14.4%), and increased serum levels of testosterone (+ 23.4%) and dehydroepiandrosterone (+ 13.8%). In addition, epiandrosterone levels were higher (+39%) after treatment. On the other hand, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and inhibin B did not change. A trend toward a decrease of glycemia, insulinemia and Homeostatic Model Assessment index was observed after D-chiro-inositol treatment, although differences did not reach statistical significance. D-chiro-inositol treatment did not cause any noticeable adverse effect.

Conclusions: Increased androgens and decreased estrogens seem to confirm that D-chiro-inositol acts as an aromatase down-modulator, but with a still unknown mechanism of action. This pilot study opens up new perspectives of research and therapeutic applications for D-chiro-inositol at different dosages and length of treatment.