A global research team has revealed recently that testosterone protects men against developing asthma, serving to explain why women are two times more likely to have asthma than males after puberty.
Research also confirmed that testosterone suppresses the creation of a type of immune cell that gives rise to allergic asthma. The finding may just lead to new, targeted asthma cures.
One in 9 Australians, equivalent to 2.5 million individuals and one in 12 Americans or 25 million have bronchial asthma, an inflammatory airway disease. In the course of a bronchial asthma attack, the airways swell and narrow, making it difficult to breathe. In adults, asthma is more severe in females than males, regardless of it being common among in boys than girls before puberty.
In 2016, Melbourne, Australia, experienced a thunderstorm asthma event that was once remarkable internationally in its scale and severity, with almost 10,000 individuals visiting hospitals over a two-day period. Thunderstorm asthma refers to allergic asthma thought to be initiated by an allergic reaction to grass pollen. Many men and women without a medical history of asthma had severe bronchial asthma attacks.
Dr Cyril Seillet and Professor Gabrielle Belz from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, with Dr Jean-Charles GuÃ©ry and his group on the Physiopathology Center of Toulouse-Purpan, France, led the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Dr Seillet stated that hormones had been purported to play a massive position in the incidence and severity of asthma in females. According to him, There is a very interesting clinical observation that women are more affected and develop more severe asthma than men, and so we tried to understand why this was happening.
He further added, Our research shows that high levels of testosterone in males protect them against the development of allergic asthma. We identified that testosterone is a potent inhibitor of innate lymphoid cells, a newly-described immune cell that has been associated with the initiation of asthma.
How Testosterone Protects Against Developing Asthma?
The study workforce observed that innate lymphoid cells — or ILC2s — ‘sensed’ testosterone and reacted by stopping production of the cells. Dr. Seillet commented, Testosterone directly acts on ILC2s by inhibiting their proliferation. So in males, you have less ILC2s in the lungs and this directly correlates with the reduced severity of asthma.
ILC2s are often discovered within the lungs, skin and other organs. These cells produce inflammatory proteins that may intentionally give rise to lung irritation and damage from the usual triggers for allergic asthma, similar to pollen, dirt, cigarette smoke and pet hair.
Professor Belz said understanding the mechanism that drives the sex variations in allergic asthma would result in new remedies for the disease. He commented, Current treatments for severe asthma, such as steroids, are very broad based and can have significant side effects.