Results of research conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine suggest that testosterone levels may play a role in the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to the knee. In a study on rats, the researchers found that male rats with normal testosterone levels had stronger ACLs than did castrated rats who no longer produced the hormone. The findings may explain why women are up to 10 times more likely to sustain ACL injuries than men, according to the authors. William Romani, PhD, MHA, a physical therapist and sports medicine researcher, commented, “The primary implication of the study is that testosterone may contribute to the ACL’s ability to withstand tensile loads and may be one of multiple factors response for the disparate ACL injury rate between men and women.” The findings are reported this month in the journal The Knee.
Over 200,000 Americans each year suffer injuries to the ACL, a flexible stretchable tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. These partial or full tears are usually the result of sports activities, and are 2 to 10 times more likely in women than in men who perform the same activity. In previous research, Dr. Romani demonstrated a connection between estrogen and reduced ACL strength; these findings showed that the presence of testosterone may have the opposite effect. Senior author Jennifer Elisseeff, PhD, suggested that the discovery could enable better identification of athletes at risk for ACL injury, with concurrent application of beneficial strength training to forestall it.
Read more about the findings here.
The journal abstract may be read here.