Photo Credit: Amitabh Avasthi via Penn State
Biologists at Penn State University have discovered that high levels of testosterone may be a factor in spreading disease among mice.
This research may explain why males are more often likely to get infected and spread disease. Studies have shown that males experience more bouts of disease than females, although it is not clear why males spread disease easier.
Daniel Grear, a Penn State doctoral student says: "We know that testosterone makes males more susceptible to disease. We wanted to find out if it impacts their behavior as well and how that increases their ability to transmit disease. Our plan was to raise the testosterone levels in wild mice and measure the disease risk they posed to the population"
Daniel Grear and his colleagues studied the effects of increased testosterone on mice. They randomly treated 24 male mice with testosterone implants, while 25 other male mice received sham implants. Other mice were tracked that received neither treatment.
The mice were electronically tagged so researchers could keep track of them. Once recaptured, they found that the average number of mice receiving the sham and testosterone implants significantly increased their contacts between male and female mice.
Put simply, all mice were mixing more when mice treated with testosterone were present. Mice left untreated were found to make less contact with other mice.
Grear explained his research by stating: "These findings suggest that even if some individuals in a population have high levels of testosterone, they can impact the behavior of those around, and drive the transmission of diseases transmitted by close contact such as the respiratory pathogen bordetella."
These findings were reported Aug. 8 at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Milwaukee, Wis.
Source: Penn State Univ.