Skip to main content
19/04/2022

Vall d'Hebron identifies blood testosterone concentration as an accurate predictive marker of COVID-19 survival in men

Equip Testosterona COVID-19 en homes
Dra. Rosanna Paciucci i Emily Toscano

19/04/2022

As age increases in men, the concentration of the hormone in the blood drops and this increases the likelihood of severe progression of the infection in COVID-19 patients

A new study from the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) links severe cases of COVID-19 in men to decreased testosterone levels. Until now, previous studies had determined that this hormone was related to the course of the disease, but this new research finds that knowing the variation of its concentration in blood can contribute to the decrease in mortality. The work, published in BMC Medicine and led by Dr. Rosanna Paciucci, principal investigator of the Clinical Biochemistry group at VHIR, advances the knowledge regarding the role that this marker can have to be used in the prediction of severe disease and mortality in male patients. The research has been carried out with the participation of Dr. Mónica Martínez Gallo from the Translational Immunology group at VHIR and Dr. Timothy Thomson, from the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC). Researchers from other groups at VHIR and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have also participated.

A precise understanding of the molecular and biological mechanisms that may explain the association of severe COVID-19 with male sex is still lacking. The study has found significant quantitative differences in biomarkers predictive of severity in male patients compared to female patients. The researchers were able to determine that changes in the blood concentration of testosterone in men with COVID-19 during the course of the disease is the strongest predictor of survival of all the biological and biochemical measures studied, including the single measure at patient admission. The study suggests that failure to restore testosterone levels is not only due to dysfunction in the central hormonal axis, but that the peripheral axis at the gonadal level is also affected.

In lethal cases, failure to restore physiological testosterone values is significantly associated with impaired differentiation and polarization of T helper lymphocytes and increased proinflammatory circulating classical monocytes.

This study demonstrates that androgens play a relevant role in disease severity in men and specifically testosterone is shown to have a significant role in regulating the immune system to cope with SARS-CoV-2. "Additionally, we have observed that patients who died, who have not been able to restore normal testosterone levels, present accumulation of androstenedione (testosterone source hormone), which could suggest peripheral damage at the gonadal level and not only at the level of the central hormonal axis," explains Emily Toscano, predoctoral researcher in the Clinical Biochemistry group at VHIR.

Although men and women present a similar risk of contracting the disease, men more frequently develop severe disease. Previous studies had already shown the association between male sex and the severity of infection by other coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). "Our observations find that serum testosterone concentration is the strongest predictor of survival and/or mortality in men with COVID-19 and could be key in predicting the evolution of patients," comments Dr. Paciucci. Thus, they suggest an important role of the hormone in the immune response to COVID-19.

"These results justify future experimental explorations to identify the relationship between testosterone and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection that may open the door to implement treatments to prevent severe cases and deaths," concludes Dr. Paciucci.
 

These results justify future experimental explorations to identify the relationship between testosterone and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection 

Related news

The results show that, in some patients with mutations in the X chromosome, the healthy gene is inactivated and the mutated gene manifests itself, which favors the onset of the disease.

Researchers have used an innovative protocol to identify people with this autoimmune disease who have a higher risk of cancer.

The team was born from the union of the Clinical Biochemistry and the Drug Delivery and Targeting groups with the aim of improving the diagnostic and prognostic process and developing new therapeutic strategies.

Related professionals

Romina Dieli Crimi

Romina Dieli Crimi

Translational Immunology
Read more
Blanca Angélica Urban Vargas

Blanca Angélica Urban Vargas

Read more
Daniel Alvarez De la Sierra

Daniel Alvarez De la Sierra

Research technician
Translational Immunology
Read more
Janire Perurena Prieto

Janire Perurena Prieto

Predoctoral researcher
Translational Immunology
Read more

Subscribe to our newsletters and be part of the Campus life

We are a world-leading healthcare complex where healthcare, research, teaching and innovation go hand in hand.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.