Fewer men – as opposed to women – develop allergic asthma after puberty because of the protection they get from testosterone, says a team of scientists.
Allergic asthma is an inflammatory condition that causes the airways to swell, making it hard to breathe.
According to an international team of researchers, testosterone drives the development of male sexual characteristics and suppresses the production of a type of immune cell that triggers allergic asthma.
The scientists found that higher levels of testosterone in mice helps stop the production of immune cells called innate lymphoid cells.
ILC2s are found in the lungs, skin and other organs.
These cells produce inflammatory proteins that can cause lung inflammation and damage when exposed to common triggers for allergic asthma, such as pollen, dust mites, cigarette smoke and pet hair.
The findings of the study are based on experiments carried out on mice.
“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,” said study leader Cyril Seillet, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
“Our research shows that high levels of testosterone in males protect them against the development of allergic asthma,” Seillet added.
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
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