An atypical study led by a group of scientists from the Vanderbilt University has found that women are more likely to suffer from asthma than men and the reason may be testosterone, the male sex hormone which prevents lungs from inhaling harmful pollen, dust or other airborne allergens.
Researchers suggest that testosterone obstruct those immune cells which may lead human body towards several asthma symptoms like inflammation and mucus production in the lungs.
Moreover, these immune cells cause airways to narrow during an asthma attack.
Talking about their latest findings Dawn Newcomb, from the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee has said, "When we started this study, we really thought that ovarian hormones would increase inflammation, more so than testosterone making it better."
"I was surprised to see that testosterone was more important in reducing inflammation," Dawn said.
Though before puberty boys have approximately 1.5 times higher rate of asthma than girls, the trend reverses after puberty. After puberty women are twice likely to have asthma as men.
This pattern continues until women hit menopause, and then the asthma rates in women start to decline, the researchers said.
The year-long study focused on lung cells called Group 2 innate lymphoid cells, or ILC2 cells, which make cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation and mucus production in the lungs, making it harder to breathe.
The researchers collected blood from people with and without asthma and found that those with asthma had more ILC2 cells than those without. Asthmatic women were found with more ILC2 cells than men.
In addition, when the researchers added testosterone, to the ILC2 cells, they found that the male hormone prevented the cells from expanding and reduced the production of cytokines.
However, "sex hormones are not the only mechanism but, rather, one of many mechanisms that could be regulating airway inflammation", Newcomb stated further.
The study has recently been published in the journal called Cell Reports.
(With IANS inputs)