Asthma's androgen connection
Women are more prone to developing asthma, particularly more severe types of asthma, compared to men. Studies have shown that the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, influence the mechanisms driving airway inflammation in animal models of asthma.
However, it has remained unclear how estrogen and testosterone affect pathways that increase the number of eosinophils and neutrophils, specific types of white blood cells, entering the lung in asthma.
In the current issue of the Journal of Immunology, Dawn C. Newcomb, Ph.D., and colleagues reportthat testosterone decreased type 2, eosinophilic and IL-17A, neutrophilic responses, whereas ovarian hormones increased these responses in a mouse model of airway inflammation.
These findings provide a possible reason why the prevalence of asthma is higher in women and suggest that testosterone derivatives have a potential role in being used to treat patients with more severe types of asthma.