It turns out that testosterone likely helps to explain why far more women develop asthma following puberty as compared to men. The incidence of asthma in women is double that of men, and more severe, according to the Australian and French authors of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
This is in contradiction to the fact that before puberty, asthma is more common in boys than girls.
“Our research shows that high levels of testosterone in males protect them against the development of allergic asthma,” said Dr. Cyril Seillet of Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in a press release.
The team looked at innate lymphoid cells – or ILC2s – a type of immune cell that has recently been associated with the onset of asthma. It found that testosterone halted the production of those cells.
“Testosterone directly acts on ILC2s by inhibiting their proliferation,” Seillet said. “So in males, you have less ILC2s in the lungs and this directly correlates with the reduced severity of asthma.”
The discovery could lead to ways to treat or even to prevent asthma, according to the researchers.