Given the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its overwhelming effect on health care systems and the global economy, innovative therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. The proposed primary culprit of COVID-19 is the intense inflammatory response—an augmented immune response and cytokine storm—severely damaging the lung tissue and rendering some patients’ conditions severe enough to require assisted ventilation. Sex differences in the response to inflammation have been documented and can be attributed, at least in part, to sex steroid hormones. Moreover, age-associated decreases in sex steroid hormones, namely, estrogen and testosterone, may mediate proinflammatory increases in older adults that could increase their risk of COVID-19 adverse outcomes. Sex hormones can mitigate the inflammation response and might provide promising therapeutic potential for patients with COVID-19. In this article, we explore the possible anti-inflammatory effects of estrogen and testosterone and the anabolic effect of testosterone, with particular attention to the potential therapeutic role of hormone replacement therapy in older men and women with COVID-19.
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