A study by the University of Washington, in the United States, published this Tuesday (25) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, relates the level of testosterone to the severity of cases of covid-19.
Epidemiological data suggest that, although men are no longer predisposed to contracting the new coronavirus, they are more likely to develop the disease to a severe stage, compared to women.
Led by experts from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, United States, the research investigated the relationship between the evolution of Covid-19 and the concentration of three hormones: testosterone, estradiol – the most abundant estrogen in the body and the IGF-1, a substance that plays an important role in maintaining muscle mass.
Samples of genetic material from 152 patients, between men and women, were evaluated, including 143 who were hospitalized with covid-19 from March to May 2020. The study found that 66 of the 90 men had severe conditions of the disease and a testosterone rate of 65% to 85% less than the 24 men who had moderate symptoms, on the 1st and 3rd days of symptoms.
According to the research, men with low testosterone levels were more likely to need intensive treatment or intubation in the next 2 or 3 days.
Among women, this relationship has not been proven. The study, however, concludes that further investigations are needed to understand its pathophysiological association with covid-19.
By the end of the study, 37 patients had died, of which almost 68% (25) were male.
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Men who arrived at the hospital with low testosterone levels had a greater need for mechanical ventilation or intensive care, as well as a greater risk of dying. “And if testosterone levels dropped further during hospitalization, the risk increased,” explains Abhinav Diwan, senior author of the study, in a statement
According to the study upon arrival at the hospital, about 89% of male patients had testosterone concentrations below the level considered ideal. Among the participants who needed hospitalization, those who presented less severe clinical outcomes had, on average, 151 nanograms per deciliter of the hormone, whereas among the most seriously ill men, this number was 19 already on the third day of hospitalization.
The study, however, failed to prove whether low testosterone levels may also imply a greater likelihood of contracting the new coronavirus – since the researchers did not have access to the concentration of this hormone in the participants prior to Covid-19 infection. In view of these results, the document suggests “that care should be taken” with ongoing clinical trials that explore blocking or reducing testosterone as a treatment for male patients with the disease.