METHODS: Serum samples were collected from pediatric patients (36 allergic cases and 18 healthy controls) and adult patients (39 asthmatics and 35 healthy controls). A comprehensive profiling of the endocrine system was performed using magnetic bead multiplex assays.
RESULTS: Several key non-sex hormones are dysregulated in allergic patients: growth hormone (GH), C-peptide, insulin, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). Pre-puberty male allergic subjects had higher levels of GH, T3, and T4 compared to healthy controls, while female allergic children had lower levels of C-peptide and insulin. Strikingly, the opposite pattern emerged after puberty. Male and female asthmatic adults had lower levels of GH compared to controls, and female asthma patients had lower levels of T3 and T4. Post-puberty, C-peptide and insulin levels in females reached levels observed in males.
CONCLUSIONS: The onset of puberty profoundly affects not only sex hormones, but also other components of the endocrine system. As these hormones play important roles in homeostasis and immunity, future gender studies should focus not only on the direct effects of estrogen, but also on gender-influenced changes in central metabolism and other hormonal systems.