The Effect of Methotrexate on Sperm Quality in Men With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • End date
    Dec 20, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
Updated on 4 October 2022
chronic disease
tumor necrosis factor
ulcerative colitis
folic acid
crohn's disease
inflammatory disorder


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract which includes Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) which peak in incidence (rate or frequency) during the reproductive years. An increasing number of young people will face challenging decisions regarding medical management of this chronic disease during a period of time when they are still completing schooling, establishing their career, and/or are building a family.

Treatment options for IBD consist of immunosuppressive therapy, such as immunomodulators (azathioprine and methotrexate). Methotrexate (MTX) is a folic acid antagonist (a substance that interferes with or inhibits the action of another). It is thought that MTX works by decreasing the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. MTX has been studied for many years and in used as treatment in not only IBD, but also in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. However, due to concerns about the safety of MTX, particularly in regards to fertility and pregnancy has limited its current use.

Participants are invited to take part in this research project to determine whether the treatment of IBD patients with MTX is associated with an increased risk for infertility. Investigators will recruit 75 male IBD patients under MTX treatment for their IBD as well as 75 healthy male controls for a total of 150 patients at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics.

Condition Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Treatment Semen & Data Collection
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02461784
SponsorUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Cases: Men aged 18 to 40 years with a confirmed diagnosis of UC or CD based on endoscopy, pathology, and/or radiology AND who regularly take MTX (per oral, subcutaneous, or intramuscular) either as monotherapy or in combination with mesalamine (any except sulfasalazine), corticosteroids, anti-TNF agents, or anti-adhesion molecules for at least one month specifically for the treatment of IBD. Controls: Men aged 18 to 40 years with a confirmed diagnosis of UC or CD based on endoscopy, pathology, and/or radiology AND who do not take MTX (per oral, subcutaneous, or intramuscular) either as monotherapy or in combination with other IBD-specific drugs
Individual able and willing to consent to donate their sperm to research

Exclusion Criteria

Men with previously documented problems with male reproductive health such as known hypothalamic-pituitary disorders (e.g. pituitary macroadenomas, pituitary infarction), primary hypogonadism (e.g. cryptorchidism, Klinefelter's syndrome), or disorders of sperm transport (e.g. erectile dysfunction, history of vasectomy)
Current use of alkylating agents, ketoconazole, sulfalsalazine, H2-receptor antagonists or spironolactone
Men who have undergone ileal pouch anal anastomosis within 3 months of study entry
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