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Sex Hormone Levels May Impact Development of Asthma

Genetic evidence shows elevated SHBG levels may protect against asthma, mostly in females

TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Sex hormones may impact the risk for asthma, with elevated sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) demonstrating a protective effect in females, according to research recently published in Thorax.

Ryan Arathimos, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues combined observational evidence using longitudinal data on SHBG, total and bioavailable testosterone, and asthma from 512 male participants and genetic evidence of SHBG and asthma using two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR). The MR results were meta-analyzed across two large data sets with more than 460,000 individuals combined.

The researchers noted weak evidence of a protective effect for increased circulating testosterone on asthma in male adolescents based on observational evidence; no strong pattern of association was seen with SHBG. Using two-sample MR, genetic evidence indicated a protective effect of increased SHBG; per unit increase in natural log SHBG, the odds ratio was 0.86 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.74 to 1.00) for the inverse-variance weighted approach and 0.83 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.72 to 0.96) for the weighted median estimator. In a sensitivity analysis stratified by sex, the protective effect of SHBG was mainly seen in females.

“These findings from multiple independent data sets align with previous hypotheses suggesting that fluctuating sex hormones, particularly during puberty, may promote asthma development in females,” the authors write.

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