Do Sex Hormones Influence MS in Men?


From the NMSS:
Harvard researchers are figuring out whether the sex hormone testosterone
plays a role in getting MS or in how severe MS becomes.

Background
Growing evidence of women during pregnancy and other studies MS and Males - NMSS Photosuggest that sex hormones in women may influence MS activity.
In fact, estriol is being studied as a potential treatment for women with MS. But what about men? Several lines of evidence suggest an association between low levels of the sex hormone testosterone and MS in men.

The Study
Riley Bove, MD, of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, just received a research grant from the Society and the American Brain Foundation to explore how blood levels of testosterone may influence whether a person gets MS and influence disease course. She’s comparing hormone levels between males with MS and healthy control subjects, not just in adulthood but also exploring prenatal levels and levels in children. The team is also examining whether testosterone interacts with vitamin D, a hormone that has anti-inflammatory functions and that may be protective in MS. They are also determining
whether higher testosterone levels might be protective against disability in MS. For this, they are linking hormone levels with physical and cognitive disability at two time points, two years apart.

What’s Next?
This project could uncover aspects of sex hormones that could be manipulated to treat MS, and, if low testosterone is found to increase the risk of getting MS, this study could lead to strategies to help prevent the disease.

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