EMERGING TESTS

Researchers Find Marker That May Aid Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

The neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) may be a marker to aid in diagnosing erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a small study published in the Journal of Urology.

ED is common and its incidence increases with age, with estimates that it affects one in five men over the age of 20, but nearly three-quarters of men over the age of 75 years. Often though, diagnosis is made based on a man’s medical history and a physical exam looking for underlying conditions known to be associated with ED, like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Given the known link between ED and cardiovascular disease, the researchers assessed the relationship between ED and NLR, a nonspecific inflammatory marker. Ninety patients with ED and 94 healthy subjects (between 40 and 70 years of age) seen at internal medicine and urology clinics at Ordu University in Turkey (between September 2016 and July 2017) were included in this study. Laboratory tests included: total blood count, sedimentation, C-reactive protein, and blood chemistry.

The researchers found in univariate analysis that increased neutrophil and the NLR values, as well as the presence of diabetes and coronary artery disease were all associated with increased risk of ED. However, when controlling for other factors, only NLR was an independent predictor of ED. Using a cut-off value of 1.574, NLR predicted ED with 81.8 percent sensitivity and 67.0 percent specificity.

Takeaway: With further validation, NLR may provide clinicians with an objective marker to assist in the diagnosis of ED.

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