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Photo: Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR).

A study identifies blood testosterone concentration as an accurate predictive marker of COVID-19 survival in men

A new study led by the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) links severe cases of COVID-19 in men to decreased testosterone levels.  The work, published in BMC Medicine, 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  the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC), based in the Barcelona Science Park.

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 research, led by Dr. Rosanna Paciucci, principal investigator of the Clinical Biochemistry group at VHIR, has been carried out with the participation of Dr. Mónica Martínez Gallo from the Translational Immunology group at VHIR and Dr. Timothy Thomson, Senior Research Scientist CSIC and Principal investigator of the Cell signalling, ubiquitin and cancer group at 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.

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.

» Reference article: Toscano-Guerra, E., Gallo, M.M., Arrese-Muñoz, I. et al. Recovery of serum testosterone levels is an accurate predictor of survival from COVID-19 in male patients. BMC Med 20, 129 (2022).

» For futher information: IBMB-CSIC website [+]