Ankara, Sep 29 : In a major study on patients hospitalised due to Covid-19, the researchers found that the disease might deteriorate men's testosterone levels.
The findings, published in the journal The Aging Male, revealed that, as men's testosterone level at baseline decreases, the probability for them to be in the intensive care unit (ICU) significantly increases.
While it has already been reported that low testosterone levels could be a cause for poor prognosis following a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, this is the first study to show that Covid-19 itself depletes testosterone.
"Testosterone is associated with the immune system of respiratory organs, and low levels of testosterone might increase the risk of respiratory infections," said study author Selahittin Cayan from the University of Mersin in Turkey,
"Low testosterone is also associated with infection-related hospitalisation and all-cause mortality in male in ICU patients, so testosterone treatment may also have benefits beyond improving outcomes for Covid-19," Cayan added.
The research team looked at a total of 438 patients.
This included 232 males, each with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2. All data were prospectively collected.
A detailed clinical history, complete physical examination, laboratory and radiological imaging studies were performed in every patient.
All data of the patients were checked and reviewed by the two physicians.
The cohort study was divided into three groups: asymptomatic patients (46), symptomatic patients who were hospitalized in the internal medicine unit (IMU) (29), and patients who were hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) (46).
In this study, the mean total testosterone decreased, as the severity of the Covid-19 increased.
The mean total testosterone level was significantly lower in the ICU group than in the asymptomatic group.
In addition, the mean total testosterone level was significantly lower in the ICU group than in the Intermediate Care Unit group.
The mean serum follicle-stimulating hormone level was significantly higher in the ICU group than in the asymptomatic group.
"We found Hypogonadism - a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough testosterone in -- (51.1 per cent) -- of the male patients," Cayan said
"The patients who died had significantly lower mean total testosterone than the patients who were alive.
However, even 65.2 per cent of the 46 male patients who were asymptomatic had a loss of libido," Cayan added.
The authors state future studies should look at the concentration levels of ACE2 (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) -- an enzyme attached to the cell membranes of cells located in the intestines -- in relationship with the total testosterone levels.