Testosterone reduces the risk of inflammation

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Men are less likely to develop inflammation due to testosterone

The male sex hormone testosterone allows body hair and muscles to grow, but at the same time reduces the risk of inflammatory and allergic diseases. This is the conclusion reached by researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena in a recent study, the results of which they published in the current issue of the journal "FASEB Journal".

Not only does testosterone cause men to be more muscular than women, have a deeper voice and more body hair, it also helps men to have a much lower risk of inflammation and allergic reactions. Scientists at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena have taken a closer look at the lower risk of inflammatory diseases in men, which was already known from previous studies, and found that testosterone reduces the activity of the enzyme phospholipase D. Phospholipase D is an essential factor in the production of inflammation-promoting substances in the immune cells.

Women are at an increased risk of inflammatory diseases It has long been known that "the majority of women suffer from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis or asthma", however, the reasons for this were previously unknown, explained Prof. Dr. Oliver Werz, Chair of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Jena. The research team led by Oliver Werz has now succeeded in determining testosterone as a decisive influencing factor for the demonstrably different gender-specific risk of disease. "In a series of studies, we were able to show that the cells responsible for causing inflammation react very differently in men and women," said Dr. Carlo Pergola, who was also involved in the study. According to the expert, certain immune cells in women produced almost twice as much anti-inflammatory substances as those in men. In collaboration with researchers from Tübingen, Stockholm and Naples, the scientists at the University of Jena have therefore analyzed the molecular causes of these differences in the production of inflammation-promoting substances in more detail.

Testosterone lowers the enzyme activity of phospholipase D In order to explain the different susceptibility to inflammation, the researchers isolated immune cells from male and female test subjects and, among other things, tested the activity of the various enzymes in a test tube. They were able to demonstrate that the enzyme activity of phospholipase D, which is responsible for the production of inflammation-promoting substances, was significantly lower in male cells than in female ones. In the subsequent investigations, the researchers found that the sex hormone testosterone is apparently the cause. "Interestingly, the enzyme activity decreases under the influence of testosterone - also in the female immune cells," said Dr. Pergola. According to the researchers, this could also explain the fundamentally lower risk of inflammatory diseases in men.

Gender-specific therapies required In addition, the researchers believe that the current results should also be taken into account when considering new therapies and drugs for inflammatory diseases. Prof. Oliver Werz's scientists advocated gender-specific therapies. The previous practice in which “new therapies are only tested on male subjects” is out of date, because, as the current study also confirms, the knowledge gained cannot easily be transferred to women, explained Werz and colleagues. (fp)

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