Sex hormones may play an important role in observed gender differences in asthma incidence and severity, as well as in the observed changes in asthma symptoms during times of hormonal fluctuation (i.e.; premenstrual, pregnancy, etc.). This pilot study sought to demonstrate the feasibility of data collection methods to investigate the effects of sex hormones on lung function in women. A cohort of 13 women (6 with and 7 without prior asthma diagnoses) who were having menstrual periods and were not taking hormones collected urine samples daily for measurement of estrogen (estrone E1C) and progesterone (Pregnanediol-glucuronide PDG) metabolites over the course of a menstrual segment (bleeding episode plus the following bleeding-free interval). Hormones were used to estimate menstrual segment phase (follicular versus luteal) based on a published algorithm. Daily bleeding and FEV1 measurements were recorded and percent predicted FEV1 was calculated. Percent predicted FEV1 decreased over the course of the follicular but not the luteal phase. More specifically, among women without a prior asthma diagnosis, the E1C/PDG ratio and E1C and PDG were individually associated with FEV1 in the follicular phase. No associations were found between hormones and percent predicted FEV1 in the luteal phase or among asthmatic women. E1C was associated with FEV1 in the five days before bleeding onset only among non-asthmatic women. A study of contiguous daily hormones and symptoms over menstrual segments from a large group of women with and without asthma is needed to better determine within-woman cyclicity of the observed patterns.
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