Tampa, FL—Do testosterone levels affect asthma prevalence and lung function? It’s complicated, but the answer appears to be “yes.”

A report in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology in Practice points out that asthma prevalence decreases post puberty in males, while testosterone appears to inhibit airway smooth-muscle contraction and attenuates type 2 inflammation.

Investigators from the University of South Florida and colleagues looked at the relationship between serum testosterone and current asthma prevalence and lung function in a nationally representative dataset.

To do that, the researchers obtained serum testosterone and self-reported physician-diagnosed current asthma rates for 7,584 participants aged 6 to 80 years from the cross-sectional 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). 

Results indicate that serum testosterone was inversely associated with odds of current asthma in both men and women, but the association was determined to be nonlinear. Researchers observed similar protective-effect sizes for both sexes after log2-transformation of serum testosterone.

The authors report that, for every 1-unit increase in log2 testosterone, the odds of current asthma decreased by 11% in men and 10% in women, although the association was statistically significant in women only among those aged 12 years or older after multiple imputation. 

Serum testosterone was not associated with current asthma prevalence among those less than 12 years old, however. Testosterone was associated with increases in FEV1 in asthmatic participants of both sexes, but neither blood eosinophils nor fractionated exhaled nitric oxide modified the association between testosterone and current asthma.

“Serum testosterone inversely associates with current asthma prevalence regardless of sex and correlates with better lung function in a nationally-representative database,” the researchers conclude. “Androgen therapy for asthma should be further investigated.”

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