Approach to the male patient with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
Young J. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Mar;97(3):707-18.


Service d'Endocrinologie et des Maladies de la Reproduction, Hôpital Bicêtre, 94275 Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.


The term "congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism" (CHH) refers to a group of disorders featuring complete or partial pubertal failure due to insufficient secretion of the pituitary gonadotropins LH and FSH. Many boys (or their parents) will seek medical consultation because of partial or absent virilization after 14 yr of age. Small testes are very frequent, but height is generally normal. Laboratory diagnosis of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is relatively simple, with very low circulating total testosterone and low to low-normal gonadotropin and inhibin B levels. This hormone profile rules out a primary testicular disorder. Before diagnosing CHH, however, it is necessary to rule out a pituitary tumor or pituitary infiltration by imaging studies, juvenile hemochromatosis, and a systemic disorder that, by undermining nutritional status, could affect gonadotropin secretion and pubertal development. Anterior pituitary function must be thoroughly investigated to rule out a more complex endocrine disorder with multiple hormone deficiencies and thus to conclude that the hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is isolated. The most likely differential diagnosis before age 18 yr is constitutional delay of puberty. Apart from non-Kallmann syndromic forms, which are often diagnosed during childhood, the two main forms of CHH seen by endocrinologists are Kallmann syndrome, in which CHH is associated with impaired sense of smell, and isolated CHH with normal olfaction. Anosmia can be easily diagnosed by questioning the patient, whereas olfactometry is necessary to determine reliably whether olfaction is normal or partially defective. This step is important before embarking on a search for genetic mutations, which will also be useful for genetic counseling. The choice of a particular hormone replacement therapy protocol aimed at virilizing the patient will depend on age at diagnosis and local practices.