Increased risk of erythrocytosis in men with type 2 diabetes treated with combined sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitor and testosterone replacement therapy

J Endocrinol Invest. 2024 Mar 27. doi: 10.1007/s40618-024-02350-1. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: In clinical trials, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT-2i) and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) were shown to stimulate red blood cell production. Little is known if combination therapy poses risk of erythrocytosis in real world clinical practice.

Methods: This was a retrospective nationwide cohort study of US Veterans with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and baseline hematocrit between 38 and 50% who were prescribed SGLT-2i and/or TRT between 3/2013 and 10/2022 and had adequate adherence based on the proportion of days covered > 80%. Patients were divided into 3 groups: SGLT-2i only, TRT only, or combination therapy. Odds Ratio (OR) of new erythrocytosis defined as hematocrit level > 54% within 365 days of therapy initiation was calculated by logistic regression model adjusted for baseline hematocrit, age, BMI, obstructive sleep apnea, diuretic use, and smoking status.

Results: Of the entire cohort of 53,971 people with T2D, total of 756 (1.4%) patients developed erythrocytosis. In unadjusted analyses, the OR of new onset erythrocytosis was higher in the combined SGLT-2i and TRT group compared with the SGLT-2i or TRT group alone (4.99, 95% CI (3.10-7.71) and 2.91, 95% CI (1.87-4.31), respectively). In the models adjusted for baseline characteristics, patients on combination therapy had significantly higher odds of erythrocytosis compared to those on SGLT-2i (OR 3.80, 95% CI (2.27-6.11)) or TRT alone (OR 2.49, 95% CI (1.51-3.59)). Testosterone delivery route (topical vs injectable) did not modify increased odds of erythrocytosis.

Conclusions: For the first time, we demonstrated that in large cohort of patients combined therapy with SGLT-2i and TRT is associated with increased erythrocytosis risk compared with either treatment alone. Given rising prevalence of SGLT-2i use, providers should consider periodic hematocrit assessment in persons receiving both SGLT-2i and TRT.

Keywords: Erythrocytosis; Hematocrit; SGLT-2 inhibitors; Testosterone.