A small-scale new study has shown that men who are found to have low levels of testosterone might be at a higher risk of severe COVID19 disease. Many past studies have revealed that men are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with severe COVID19 disease as compared to women. However, it has been unclear why exactly it happens. Earlier, scientists have thought that high levels of testosterone might lead men to fare worse than women who are dealing with COVID19, but the findings of the new study have nullified this theory. Experts who have been involved in the new study have collected blood samples of 90 men and 62 women who have been dealing with symptoms of COVID19 and have visited Barnes -Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Eventually, all of them have tested positive for COVID19. Around 143 out of these patients have been hospitalized. Experts have collected the blood samples of patients who have been admitted to the hospital on the third, 7th, 14th, and 28th days. In these patients, they have observed the levels of testosterone, which is a type of estrogen that is known as estradiol. Estradiol is also a growth hormone that is known as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). In women, experts have found no association between the risk of severe COVID19 and the levels of any hormones that have been measured in the study. The levels of estrogen and IGF-1 have shown no link to the severity of the disease in men. However, the levels of testosterone have been linked to the risk of a severe form of COVID19 among men.
The authors of the new study have found that men who have been admitted to the hospital with severe COVID19 disease have been found to have an average testosterone level of 52 nanograms per deciliter. As per the experts, 250 nanograms per deciliter or less is defined as low testosterone among young adult men. The study has noted that people with mild or less severe COVID19 disease have been found to have testosterone levels of 151 nanograms per deciliter. The authors of the study have adjusted other risk factors for severe COVID19 such as age, body mass index (BMI), underlying health issues, smoking, and ethnicity. However, some of these risk factors are responsible for lower levels of testosterone, said the experts. On the third day of hospitalization, the average testosterone levels of men who have been dealing with severe disease have reduced to 19 nanograms per deciliter. Nearly 37 patients who have been hospitalized have lost their lives during the study and 25 of them have been men, said the experts. The study has pointed out that low levels of testosterone are linked to greater levels of inflammation as well in the body. The lead author of the study, Dr. Sandeep Dhindsa, who is an endocrinologist at Saint Louis University, has said that men who have not been severely ill with COVID19 but are identified with low levels of testosterone have been more likely to need intensive care or intubation over a couple of days. He has said that the low level of testosterone is an effective predictor of which patients are at a higher risk of developing a severe form of the disease or being severely ill in the next three or four days.
The team of experts has found that in men who have low levels of testosterone, certain genes that are stimulated trigger the body to use the hormone more easily. The study has not been able to find if the severe form of COVID19 causes low levels of testosterone or low levels of testosterone lead to severe COVID19 disease in the first place. The authors of the study have said that health care providers have not checked their levels of testosterone prior to COVID19 infection. They have claimed that it seems that the levels of testosterone in these patients have reduced prior to their admission to the hospital. The authors have said that it is possible that prior to their infection, these patients have been dealing with lower than average levels of testosterone that have resulted in reduced muscle mass and strength, which leads to lower lung capacity. Experts have said that lower lung capacity increases the risk of requiring a ventilator. The authors of the new study have advised that health care providers should be careful with hormone therapy treatments that can reduce the levels of testosterone and shoot up the levels of estrogen in men who have tested positive for COVID19. Experts have said that they are now going to look at the link between these hormones and cardiovascular issues in people who are diagnosed with long COVID after recovery. The findings of the new study have been published in the journal called JAMA Network Open.