Background: Asthma severity differs according to gender; in adult women, there is higher prevalence and severity of asthma than in men, and it coincides with changes in sex hormones. Recently, a new phonotype of asthma has been identified that appears after menopause, and it may be associated with decreased estrogen levels. Our goal was to study the 17β-estradiol (E2) concentrations in the blood and airways of women affected by asthma onset after menopause, evaluating its possible role in the severity of the disease. Methods: We enrolled 33 consecutive women with a diagnosis of postmenopausal asthma, recruited from the outpatient pulmonary clinic: 18 with severe (SA) and 15 with mild-to-moderate (MMA) asthma. We also included 30 age-matched healthy menopausal women as controls (HS). All subjects enrolled underwent blood and sputum collection (IS), and E2 concentrations were determined in plasma and sputum supernatant samples using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit. Results: Significantly higher serum concentrations of E2 were found in postmenopausal SA compared to MMA and HS, respectively (33 ± 5.5 vs. 24 ± 6.63 vs. 7.79 ± 1.54 pg/mL, p
< 0.05). Similar results were found in the IS: significantly higher levels of E2 were detected in patients with postmenopausal SA compared with MMA and HS, respectively (0.34 ± 0.17 vs. 0.26 ± 0.13 vs. 0.07 ± 0.06 pg/mL, p
< 0.05). We found positive correlations between IS E2 concentrations and sputum neutrophil levels in SA group (ρ
= 0.52, p
< 0.05). Conclusions: Our findings showed the possibility to measure E2 in the airways, and it has increased in postmenopausal asthmatic patients, especially in those with SA. Airways E2 levels may serve as a suitable biomarker of postmenopausal SA to help to phenotype SA patients with neutrophil inflammation.
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