Impact of Imatinib on the Fertility of Male Patients with Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia in the Chronic Phase



Imatinib is a first-line tyrosine kinase inhibitor for treating chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) and has greatly improved the prognosis of this disease. An increasing number of CML patients of reproductive age are diagnosed each year, and the impact of imatinib on fertility is a major concern. Providing useful advice to these patients regarding the choice of their therapeutic treatment is very important.


This study examined the impact of imatinib on the fertility of male patients with CML in the chronic phase.

Patients and Methods

We performed a study of 48 adult male CML patients in the chronic phase (CML-CP), 50 healthy control subjects, and 10 male patients with infertility. Imatinib levels in semen and plasma were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. We examined the effects of imatinib on sperm parameters and the male reproductive system using a computer-assisted sperm assay and ultrasound, respectively. We analysed sex hormone levels in the sera of CML-CP patients using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Imatinib levels in semen were comparable to plasma levels in CML-CP patients. CML-CP patients treated with imatinib exhibited reduced sperm density, counts, survival rates, and activity. Ultrasound demonstrated that the shape and size of the testis and epididymis in CML-CP patients undergoing imatinib treatment were normal. However, 19 of these patients exhibited a hydrocele in their tunica vaginalis, with a large dark area of effusion (0.7–2.9 cm in width). Sex hormone levels in the sera of the CML-CP patients were normal.


These results suggest that imatinib crosses the blood-testis barrier and reduces sperm density, sperm count, survival rates, and activity in CML-CP patients. However, imatinib did not affect the structure of reproductive organs or sex hormone levels.

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Meiyun Fang or Yang Xiang.

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This study was supported by a grant from the National Nature Science Foundation of Liaoning Province (number: 2,015,020,411–301).

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Chang, X., Zhou, L., Chen, X. et al. Impact of Imatinib on the Fertility of Male Patients with Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia in the Chronic Phase. Targ Oncol 12, 827–832 (2017).

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