Influence of testosterone on ventilation and chemosensitivity in male subjects

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1985 Nov;59(5):1452-7. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1985.59.5.1452.


There is increasing evidence that men have higher ventilatory responses to chemical stimuli than age-matched women and that certain disorders of respiratory rhythmicity, particularly sleep apnea, occur more commonly in men. Accordingly, we studied the influence of the male hormone, testosterone, on the control of breathing. Twelve hypogonadal males were studied at least 30 (mean +/- SE: 69.7 +/- 8.9) days after discontinuing testosterone replacement and again following hormone administration. In each subject plasma testosterone concentration, metabolic rate [O2 consumption (VO2) and CO2 production (VCO2)], minute ventilation (VE), and chemosensitivity [hypoxic (HVR) and hypercapnic (HCVR) ventilatory responses] were determined on and off hormone replacement. With testosterone administration VO2 increased from 248 +/- 15 to 276 +/- 18 ml/min (P less than 0.05), with VCO2 showing a similar but nonsignificant trend. This was associated with an increase in VE from 8.41 +/- 0.78 to 9.91 +/- 0.75 l/min (P less than 0.05) but no change in PCO2. The HVR, expressed as A, increased 44% with hormone replacement from a value of 122 +/- 23 to 176 +/- 28 (P less than 0.01), whereas the HCVR was minimally affected by testosterone administration. These findings may in part explain the previously described differences between male and female subjects in hypoxic sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / drug effects
  • Respiration / drug effects*
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Testosterone