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Women suffer from asthma more often, testosterone could be the reason
Women generally have a higher risk of developing asthma than men. Researchers have now found at least one reason for this increased risk of asthma. It is the so-called sex hormone testosterone. According to a recent study, testosterone protects the lungs from asthma.
The researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that testosterone protects our lungs from asthma. This seems to be one of the reasons why women are more likely to develop asthma. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Cell Reports".
What does testosterone do?
Testosterone leads to increased body hair and increased aggressiveness, at least this is said to be the hormone. The hormone occurs in both sexes, but the mode of action and the concentration differ. Latest research has now shown that testosterone also affects the lungs. More specifically, testosterone can protect the lungs from asthma diseases.
Women are twice as likely to develop asthma
Women are more likely to develop asthma. According to the results of various studies, women are even twice as likely to develop asthma than men. The reason for this seems to be the sex hormone testosterone. Because in humans and mice it was found that testosterone affects the immune cells in the lungs. These are involved in the development of asthma.
What is asthma?
In people with asthma, the bronchi are particularly sensitive to certain stimuli, such as allergens. The resulting overreaction then leads to chronic inflammation of the airways and causes shortness of breath. In Germany, about ten percent of all children suffer from asthma. In addition, about five percent of adults are affected by the lung disease. According to the National Care Guideline Asthma, asthma is even the most common chronic disease in children.
Boys develop asthma more often in childhood
It is actually still the case in childhood that boys develop asthma more often than girls. But from the time of puberty, the tide turns. From this point on, men seem to be better protected from lung disease. To better understand this effect, medical professionals examined various women and men with or without asthma.
People with asthma have elevated levels of ILC cells
An increased number of certain lymphoid cells was found in all examined persons with asthma. These are called ILC2 and are already known from previous studies. Analyzes of blood samples showed that the number of these special cells was higher in women with asthma than in men with asthma. The ILC cells play an important role in diseases such as allergies or asthma. They produce so-called cytokines. These are proteins that can cause inflammation and increase the production of mucus in the lungs. That is why affected people find it harder to breathe.
Testosterone led to a lower production of cytokines
In their study, the experts from the USA examined whether male hormones affect the number of ILC cells. To do this, they added testosterone to the ILC cells from the lungs of mice. As a result, the cells grew less and less cytokines were produced, the scientists said in a press release from Vanderbilt University.
There are many mechanisms that can trigger an inflammatory reaction in the respiratory tract
The influence of testosterone was also confirmed in various other experiments. For example, castrated mice that produce very little testosterone were examined. By using certain molds, the doctors were able to trigger various immune reactions in male and also in female animals. Testosterone was able to block certain signaling pathways that are involved in the development of asthma. The influence of sex hormones is just one of many mechanisms that can cause an inflammatory response in the respiratory tract, the study authors explain. (as)