DDEA Board Member Calls for Increased Focus on Adverse Effects of Treatment for Prostate Cancer | Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
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DDEA Board Member Calls for Increased Focus on Adverse Effects of Treatment for Prostate Cancer

DDEA Board Member Calls for Increased Focus on Adverse Effects of Treatment for Prostate Cancer -

Danish Diabetes Academy-funded researcher Julie Abildgaard is first author of a recent cohort study investigating patients with testosterone deficiency after treatment for prostate cancer. Julie is also one of the new members of the Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy (DDEA) Board of Directors.

Julie Abildgaard is a medical doctor, graduated in 2015 from the University of Copenhagen. She currently holds a position as specialist registrar in endocrinology at Bispebjerg Hospital 80 % of the time. The remaining 20 % of the time she spends as a postdoc funded by the Danish Diabetes Academy (DDA). As a postdoc, she focuses on sex hormones and different aspects of metabolism, especially lipid metabolism.

Julie is listed as the first author of the article Pituitary-testis axis dysfunction following adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy, published in Endocrine-Related Cancer in December 2022.

The article was co-written by Hein Vincent Stroomberg, A. Kirstine Bang, Jakob Albrethsen, Laura Smedegaard Kruuse, Anders Juul, Klaus Brasso, Andreas Røder, and Niels Jørgensen.

“While working in the clinic at the Department of Growth and Reproduction, we observed an increased frequency of patients referred with testosterone deficiency following treatment with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer, even though it was several years since they ended the treatment. The ADT is a GnRH analogue, shutting down the secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland. So, we wondered whether the pituitary-gonadal axis in some patients was unable to recover from the treatment, leading to sustained testosterone deficiency,” Julie Abildgaard explains.

Negatively impacting the quality of life

Julie Abildgaard and her team started investigating the causes of testosterone deficiency after ADT further. In this, the Department of Urology at Rigshospitalet was one of the team’s most vital collaborators.

“We invited a larger cohort of patients who finished their androgen deprivation therapy several years earlier and did a thorough investigation of their full pituitary-gonadal axis and assessed symptoms of testosterone deficiency through questionnaires. We invited patients blinded to the presence of testosterone deficiency,” says Julie Abildgaard.

Results from the cohort showed that about half of the patients suffered from testosterone deficiency four years after the end of treatment. Half of these suffered from testosterone deficiency based on testicular dysfunction and the other half based on pituitary dysfunction. Julie and her team experienced that the testosterone deficiency symptoms in these patients had a substantial negative impact on their quality of life.

“As most people previously treated for prostate cancer live many years following treatment, it is crucial to focus on the sustained adverse effects we induce with our treatment. It is, at present, unknown if testosterone treatment introduces an increased risk of relapse of prostate cancer in these patients or whether this would be a possible treatment for those who develop sustained testosterone deficiency following androgen deprivation therapy – also, we need to understand if testosterone treatment would improve these patients’ quality of life. These are the next big questions for us to answer,” says Julie Abildgaard.

A Board of Directors member with a mission

In November 2022, Julie Abildgaard was revealed as one of the members of the Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy (DDEA) Board of Directors, which holds seven members with representatives from early-career researchers, senior researchers, and clinicians, as well as universities, hospitals, and the life science industry across diabetes and other endocrinology fields.

For Julie, saying yes to this new endeavour was easy.

“The Danish Diabetes Academy gave me so much as a young researcher: access to excellent courses, great possibilities to network, they involved me in the planning of courses, and they funded my postdoc. I have been very fortunate to have an academy like this as a young Danish researcher, and I feel confident that the new DDEA will be just as important for young researchers in the field of diabetes and endocrinology. So, when I got the opportunity to pay this forward to future young researchers as a member of the new Board of Directors, I was very happy and proud,” says Julie Abildgaard.

Julie is especially driven by a need to help young researchers who are struggling with having to manage clinic work while also working on establishing themselves as researchers.

“I am the representative for the Society of Young Endocrinologists (FYEN), and so I feel especially obliged to stand up for young medical doctors who also wish to pursue a career in research besides their medical training. I have been juggling these two jobs for several years myself, and it is not an easy task. So, if I can contribute to making life easier for young researchers working in the clinic and trying to establish themselves as researchers at the same time, I would be very proud,” says Julie Abildgaard.

Read more about the DDEA Board of Directors here.


Pituitary-testis axis dysfunction following adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy (Endocrine-Related Cancer, Dec 2022), DOI: 10.1530/ERC-22-0246

Contact Information

Julie Abildgaard
MD, Postdoc, Bispebjerg Hospital and Rigshospitalet
E-mail: julie.abildgaard.01@regionh.dk