Most epidemiologic studies performed in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) relate that the disease occurs preferentially in males with a sex ratio of ∼1.2. In addition, CML can be diagnosed in young adults and masculine fertility is a matter of concern, particularly because tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) may impact on spermatogenesis by a selective inhibition of Src kinases, PDGF-R and c-kit. Sperm cryopreservation is recommended by some authors at diagnosis in males that would expect to have children later on. In a retrospective analysis we have analysed the spermograms of 62 chronic phase (CP) and 2 onset blast crisis (BC) CML males referred to our 3 centres between 2001 and 2012, collected at diagnosis before TKI treatment, and we have compared the results obtained to those of 15 healthy volunteer donors from the cryopreservation bank database, after informed consent. In 10 patients we could collect some data for patients being on imatinib mesylate (IM). CML patients had a median age of 31 (16–48) years, significantly younger than that in the control group of healthy donors: 37 (34–45) years (p=0.001). Sokal scores were 24% high, 27% intermediate and 49% low for evaluable patients (13 patients unknown or not available). The median BCR-ABLIS value at diagnosis was 77.65%. Patients had a median duration of 26 (0–38) days of hydroxyurea prior to commencing any TKI and 65% of evaluable patients had HU before TKI. None of the patients got interferon prior to TKI. The semen cryopreservation was performed within a median of 10 (2–102) days after CML diagnosis and after a median abstinence of 5 (0.5–30) days. The median volume of semen obtained in CML patients was 2.95 (0.5–14.9) ml and 3 (1.4–5.3) ml for normal donors (p=0.3). Williams test showed 72 (0–87)% of necrospermia in patients versus 18 (4–32)% in donors (p=0.00003). The median number of spermatozoa obtained was not different in patients [46 (0.03–200) 106/ml] than that in donors [74 (19.2–253) 106/ml] (p=0.24), as well as the number of spermatozoa per ejaculate observed (p=0.49). The motility of spermatozoa at 30 minutes after collection was not different between patients (median = 47.5%) and donors (median = 50%) (p=0.12), however higher numbers of atypical spermatozoa were observed in patients [median = 77.5 (16–100)%] rather than in donors [median = 45% (22–89)%], p=0.008, and the multiple abnormalities index (MAI) was significantly higher in patients [median = 1.99 (1.14–2.7)] than that in donors [median = 1.33 (1.09–1.55)], p=0.00006. There was no correlation between age at diagnosis, Sokal index and the number of spermatozoa per ml obtained (p=0.7 and 0.21 respectively).
Ten CP CML patients had spermograms after a median of 1440 (9–1456) days of IM treatment and the results obtained were compared to i) the results of each individual patient at CP diagnosis and ii) to the results of healthy comparators. In comparison to the characteristics observed at diagnosis, the semen volume (median = 3.1 ml), Williams test (median = 65%), the motility at 30 minutes (median = 37.5%) and the MAI (median = 1.71) were not different (p=ns for all), however, the numbers of spermatozoa (median = 14.9 106/ml and = 37.05 ml per ejaculate) collected on IM were significantly lower (p=0.014 and p=0.045 respectively). The different parameters evaluated on IM were compared to those of normal controls and showed significant alterations. The semen volume was not different (p=0.94), neither the motility of spermatozoa (p=0.24), but the Williams test was highly perturbed on IM [median 65 (24–79)% versus 18 (4–32)% in donors] p=0.00003, as well as the numbers of spermatozoa as 106 per ml, collected on IM [median 14.9 (0.67–179)) versus normal [74 (19.2–253)], p=0.0036 or as 106 per ejaculate collected on IM [median 37.5 (2.68–572.8)) versus normal [149 (30–535.3)], p=0.026. Atypical forms were significantly more abundant on IM [median = 80 (68–90)%] versus healthy controls [median = 45% (22–89)], p=0.0058. Finally, the MAI was severely altered on IM [median = 1.71 (1.61–1.98)] versus normal individuals [median = 1.33 (1.09–1.55)], p=0.00013.
In conclusion, this work demonstrates the existence of significant sperm alterations in young males with CML at diagnosis of undetermined origin, prior to any treatment. These alterations persist on IM treatment and little is know about the impact of second generation TKI. Thus the most appropriate approach remains a matter of debate in thus setting.
Nicolini:Novartis, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Pfizer, ARIAD, and Teva: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding. Huguet:Novartis, BMS: Speakers Bureau. Michallet:Novartis, Pfizer, Teva, Genzyme, Janssen Cilag, BMS, Merck, Pfizer, Gilead, Alexion: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau. Etienne:Novartis, Pfizer, speaker for Novartis, BMS: Consultancy.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.