Gender Differences Identified in Asthma Pathogenesis

August 18, 2008

Postpubertal females with asthma have more severe airway responsiveness compared with males and the responsiveness is associated with gender-specific factors, researchers report in the Aug. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

MONDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Postpubertal females with asthma have more severe airway responsiveness compared with males and the responsiveness is associated with gender-specific factors, researchers report in the Aug. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Kelan G. Tantisira, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined characteristics associated with persistence of airway responsiveness in 1,041 children (5-12 years old) with mild-to-moderate asthma. Children were challenged with methacholine yearly. Airway responsiveness was assessed by the provocative concentration producing a 20 percent decrease (PC20) in forced expiratory volume in one second.

During a mean of 8.6 years, the researchers found that the PC20 increased with age, with boys having a greater increase after 11 years of age compared with girls, suggesting decrease in disease severity. Even after adjusting for a number of variables, postpubertal girls had greater airway responsiveness, the investigators reported. Significant factors associated with a decline in PC20 only in girls were a history of hay fever, respiratory allergy or recent inhaled corticosteroid usage.

"Airway responsiveness (PC20) is more severe in the postpubertal female with asthma than in males," Tantisira and colleagues conclude. "Although there are factors associated with airway responsiveness in both males and females, sex-specific factors may contribute to new insights into asthma pathogenesis."

Two of the study co-authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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