Skip to main content

Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Pediatric

JAMA Study: Immunotherapy May Affect Male Fertility

Male Fertility

This study is the first to link immunotherapy for cancer with reduced sperm-producing cells.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Brady scientists have shown that immunotherapy for cancer can have a major impact on sperm production. These findings were published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology (JAMA Oncol. 2020 Aug 1;6(8):1297-1299).

“Many forms of cancer therapy can be detrimental to fertility, if the therapy disrupts the reproductive tract, damages sperm-producing cells in the testis, or diminishes the testosterone-producing activity of the testes,” says Brady urologist Amin Herati, M.D., Director of Male Infertility and Men’s Health and senior author of the study.

Because immunotherapy is still so new, its effects on reproductive potential were not known. In this study, Herati and his team studied testicular tissue from seven men who received immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma, compared to tissue from six men with metastatic melanoma who did not receive immunotherapy or other potentially toxic treatment. The results were profound: “We found that 86 percent of the men who underwent immunotherapy had reduced sperm-producing cells, compared to only 33 percent of men in the control group,” says Herati. This study is the first to link immunotherapy with reduced sperm-producing cells.

“Our findings have potential major implications for the use of immunotherapy among men who are planning on having children,” Herati adds. Additional research is ongoing to confirm these findings.

© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. All rights reserved.