Testosterone therapy in hypogonadal men: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the relative effects of individual testosterone products among hypogonadal men.

DESIGN: Systematic review and network meta-analysis.

METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, and grey literature (25 May 2017) for randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised studies (NRS) that involved hypogonadal men given testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for ≥3 months. Comparators were placebo, another TRT, or the same product at a different dose. Outcomes were quality of life, depression, libido, erectile function, activities of daily living and testosterone levels, as well as cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes, serious adverse events, withdrawals due to adverse events and erythrocytosis. RCT data were pooled via meta-analysis and network meta-analysis. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane's risk of bias tool (RCTs) andScottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN)50 (NRS).

RESULTS: Eighty-seven RCTs and 51 NRS were included. Most were at high or unclear risk of bias, with short treatment duration and follow-up. When compared as a class against placebo, TRT improved quality of life (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.26, 95% CI -0.41 to -0.11), libido (SMD 0.33, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.50), depression (SMD -0.23, 95% CI -0.44 to -0.01) and erectile function (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.41). Most individual TRTs were significantly better than placebo at improving libido (6/10). Only one TRT was better than placebo at improving quality of life, and no individual TRTs improved depression or erectile function. There was no increased risk of adverse events, with the exception of withdrawals due to adverse events with the use of some TRTs.

CONCLUSION: Despite a class effect of improving quality of life, depression, erectile function and libido, major improvements were not observed with the use of any individual product. We observed no statistically significant increase in the risk of adverse events; however, longer-term high-quality trials are needed to fully assess the risk of harm.

PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42014009963.