Background: The risk factors for Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease (MAC-LD) are not well known. We hypothesized that low serum estradiol (E2) levels are related to MAC-LD as most patients with MAC-LD are postmenopausal women. Methods: This cross-sectional study compared patients with MAC-LD and healthy controls. Study subjects were postmenopausal women aged 65 years or younger. Serum testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), and E2 levels were measured and categorized as high or low based on median levels. We performed multivariate analysis, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, and age-and body mass index (BMI)-matched subgroup analysis to evaluate the association between low serum E2 levels and MAC-LD. Additionally, using blood samples obtained for other clinical studies, the levels of sex steroid hormones were compared between age-and BMI-matched MAC-LD and bronchiectasis female patients without non-tuberculosis mycobacterial infections (non-NTM BE). Results: Forty-two patients with MAC-LD and 91 healthy controls were included. The median E2 (2.20 pg/mL vs. 15.0 pg/mL, p < 0.001), testosterone (0.230 ng/L vs. 0.250 ng/L, p = 0.005), and DHEA-S (82.5 μg/dL vs. 114.0 μg/dL, p < 0.001) levels were lower in the MAC-LD group than in the control group. Multivariate analysis revealed that low serum E2 (adjusted odds ratio = 34.62, 95% confidence interval = 6.02-199.14) was independently related to MAC-LD, whereas low DHEA-S and testosterone were not. ROC analysis illustrated a strong relationship between low serum E2 levels and MAC-LD (area under the curve = 0.947, 95% confidence interval = 0.899-0.995). Even the age-and BMI-matched subgroup analysis of 17 MAC-LD patients and 17 healthy controls showed lower serum E2 in MAC-LD patients than in healthy controls. Additionally, serum E2 levels of 20 MAC-LD patients were lower than plasma E2 levels of 11 matched non-NTM BE patients (1.79 pg/mL vs. 11.0 pg/mL, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Low serum E2 levels were strongly related to MAC-LD in postmenopausal women.
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