Testosterone 'may explain gender differences in ACL injury rates'

21 September 2016

Testosterone levels may help to explain why women are more susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries than men.

A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine examined a group of rats, finding that normal male rats with natural supplies of testosterone had stronger ACLs than those that no longer produced the hormone.

As the male body naturally produces much more testosterone than the female body does, this may help to explain why women are up to ten times more likely than men to injure the ACLs in their knees.

Physical therapist and sports medicine researcher Dr William Romani said: "The primary implication of the study is that testosterone may contribute to the ACL's ability to withstand tensile loads and may be one of multiple factors responsible for the disparate ACL injury rate between men and women."

This discovery could lead to the development of new techniques that use circulating sex hormone levels to identify athletes at higher risk for ACL injury who may therefore benefit from training strategies to strengthen the ligament.

More research is needed to determine which pathways and molecules testosterone and oestrogen act through to influence ligament strength, and whether these hormones also affect other ligaments.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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