TAMPA, FL—Do testosterone levels affect asthma prevalence and lung function? A new study sought to answer that question.

The report in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology in Practice pointed out that asthma prevalence decreases post-puberty in males, while testosterone appears to inhibit airway smooth muscle contraction and attenuates Type 2 inflammation.1

Investigators from the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and the University of South Florida looked at the relationship between serum testosterone and current asthma prevalence and lung function in a nationally-representative dataset.

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

Results indicated 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 reported that, for every one-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 12 years old or older after multiple imputation.

On the other hand, serum testosterone did not associate with current asthma prevalence among those less than 12 years old. Testosterone was associated with increases in FEV1 in asthmatic participants of both sexes, but neither blood eosinophils nor FeNO 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 concluded. “Androgen therapy for asthma should be further investigated.”

  1. Bulkhi AB, Shepard KV 2nd, Casale TB, Cardet JC. Elevated testosterone is associated with decreased likelihood of current asthma regardless of sex [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 30]. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;S2213-2198(20)30514-6. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2020.05.022