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Effect of Oral Zinc Therapy on Gonadal Function in Hemodialysis Patients: A Double-Blind Study

SUDESH K. MAHAJAN, M.D.; ALI A. ABBASI, M.D.; ANANDA S. PRASAD, M.D., Ph.D.; PARVIZ RABBANI, Ph.D.; WILLIAM A. BRIGGS, M.D.; and FRANKLIN D. McDONALD, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: In part by grant #AM19338 from the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis Metabolism and Digestive Diseases) and a Sickle Cell Center Grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Franklin D. McDonald, M.D.; Hutzel Hospital, 4707 St. Antoine; Detroit, MI 48201.


Detroit, Michigan


©1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(3):357-361. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-3-357
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Zinc deficiency may account for the persistence of gonadal dysfunction in a majority of uremic men despite adequate dialysis. Twenty stable patients having hemodialysis three times a week completed a double-blind trial using either 50 mg of elemental zinc as zinc acetate (10 patients) or placebo (10 patients), orally. At the end of the 6-month study period, a significant increase in the mean (± SE) plasma zinc (75 ± 2 µg/dL to 100 ± 2 µg/dL, p < 0.001), serum testosterone (2.8 ± 0.3 ng/dL to 5.2 ± 0.5 ng/mL, p < 0.001), and sperm count (30 ± 3 million/mL to 63 ± 5 million/mL, p < 0.001) occurred in the zinc-treated group, but not in those receiving the placebo. The zinc-treated group also had a significant fall in serum luteinizing hormone (92 ± 10 mIU/mL to 49 ± 26 mIU/mL, p < 0.005) and follicle stimulating hormone (45 ± 9 mIU/mL to 25 ± 7 mIU/mL, p < 0.05), not seen in the placebo group. Patients receiving zinc had an improvement in potency, libido, and frequency of intercourse not found in the placebo group. These results suggest that zinc deficiency is a reversible cause of gonadal dysfunction in patients having regular hemodialysis.

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