Androgen blockade does not affect sleep-disordered breathing or chemosensitivity in men with obstructive sleep apnea

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Dec;146(6):1389-93. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/146.6.1389.


As sleep apnea is more prevalent in men and testosterone has known effects on sleep apnea and chemosensitivity, reduction of androgen activity may influence sleep-disordered breathing and respiratory control. We studied the effect of 1 wk of treatment with flutamide, a nonsteroidal antiandrogen, on sleep, respiration, and ventilatory control in eight men with sleep apnea. Results on flutamide were compared with two baseline studies performed before and after the drug treatment period. Although effective androgen blockade was achieved as evidenced by increased hormone levels, flutamide had no effect on sleep architecture or chemoresponsiveness to hypoxia and hypercapnia. There was a trend towards a reduction in respiratory disturbance index in both NREM and REM sleep (41 +/- 4 baseline versus 34 +/- 3 flutamide, p = 0.09 NREM; 53 +/- 4 baseline versus 48 +/- 3 flutamide, p = 0.16 REM), but this was not significant. Our results indicate that androgen blockade had no clinically significant effect on sleep, sleep-disordered breathing, or chemosensitivity in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. More specific blockers such as gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogs may have more clinical effect or, alternatively, androgen blockade may be more beneficial in patients with milder sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androgens / physiology*
  • Flutamide / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / blood
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*


  • Androgens
  • Flutamide