High levels of testosterone may be a key factor in spreading disease
Ever wondered why males in any population are often more likely to get infected, and transmit disease? Well, American biologists say that it may be because of the male sex hormone testosterone.
Daniel Grear, Penn State doctoral student in ecology, has revealed that experiments on mice suggest that high levels of testosterone may be a key factor in spreading disease.
“We know that testosterone makes males more susceptible to disease. We wanted to find out if it impacts their behaviour as well and how that increases their ability to transmit disease,” he said.
During the study, Grear and his colleagues investigated the effects of increased testosterone on mice behaviour.
“Our plan was to raise the testosterone levels in wild mice and measure the disease risk they posed to the population,” he said while presenting the team’s findings at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Grear and his colleagues studied the effects of increased testosterone on mice. They randomly treated 24 male mice with testosterone implants, while 25 other male mice received sham implants. Other mice were tracked that received neither treatment.
The mice were electronically tagged so researchers could keep track of them. Once recaptured, they found that the average number of mice receiving the sham and testosterone implants significantly increased their contacts between male and female mice.
Put simply, all mice were mixing more when mice treated with testosterone were present. Mice left untreated were found to make less contact with other mice.
Grear explained his research by stating, “These findings suggest that even if some individuals in a population have high levels of testosterone, they can impact the behavior of those around, and drive the transmission of diseases transmitted by close contact such as the respiratory pathogen bordetella.”
Via The Times