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May 16, 2012

Does Testosterone Reduce Inflammation?

Does Testosterone Reduce Inflammation?

Inflammation is one of the main factors of aging and in the development of disease. It’s essential that inflammation be kept at bay if you want to live life free of disease and full of energy.  We now know that testosterone can reduce inflammation.

How Does Testosterone Reduce Inflammation?

On the surface, it seems far-fetched that testosterone could modulate the inflammatory response, but that’s what research from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany suggests. Men and women respond differently to inflammatory stimuli and testosterone may explain why. Women typically suffer more often than men from auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, and asthma. And, women also have lower testosterone levels than men.

So how might testosterone be related to inflammation? It appears to have something to do with the enzyme phosopholipase D. The higher the activity of phospholipase D the more inflammation, and in women phospholipase D is more active than in men.  Testosterone appears to suppress phospholipase D activity. Not only that, but activity of phospholipase is diminished in female immune cells with testosterone treatment suggesting a cause and effect relationship.

But, it doesn’t stop with phospholipase D.  It’s known that inflammatory markers like interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin-1beta increase with age and inhibit testosterone secretion.  And, other studies suggest that testosterone supplementation reduces some of these inflammatory markers.

Testosterone and Cardiovascular Disease

Though we think of cardiovascular disease as a “plumbing” disorder, it is very much an inflammatory disease.  Heart disease increases in men with age and that corresponds to declining levels of testosterone in men seen with aging.  It might very well be a loss of protection against inflammation that contributes to the rising incidence of heart disease in men with aging. As we have mentioned in other posts, testosterone also enhances nitric oxide production which improves blood flow providing another mechanism by which testosterone appears to protect against cardiovascular disease.

Men with metastatic prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation therapy, or therapies designed to lower testosterone, are at increased risk of heart disease.  See our post, “Cardiovascular Disease Linked to Treatments that Lower Testosterone”.

So evidence is mounting that inflammation leads to heart disease and lower testosterone levels leads to increased inflammation.

See “Nonsexual Symptoms of Low T”

“Diabetes and Low Testosterone”

“Testosterone, Part 1: What’s Normal?”

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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