Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEAS) have been reported to have memory enhancement effects in humans. A neuro-stimulatory action and an anti-cortisol mechanism of action may contribute to that relation. In order to study DHEA, DHEAS and cortisol relations to working memory and distraction, we recorded the electroencephalogram of 23 young women performing a discrimination (no working memory load) or 1-back (working memory load) task in an audio-visual oddball paradigm. We measured salivary DHEA, DHEAS and cortisol both before each task and at 30 and 60 min. Under working memory load, a higher baseline cortisol/DHEA ratio was related to higher distraction as indexed by an enhanced novelty P3. This suggests that cortisol may lead to increased distraction whereas DHEA may hinder distraction by leading to less processing of the distractor. An increased DHEA production with consecutive cognitive tasks was found and higher DHEA responses attributed to working memory load were related to enhanced working memory processing as indexed by an enhanced visual P300. Overall, the results suggest that in women DHEA may oppose cortisol effects reducing distraction and that a higher DHEA response may enhance working memory at the electrophysiological level.
Stress has well-known effects on adrenal glucocorticoid secretion, and chronic elevation of glucocorticoids can have detrimental effects on the brain. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an androgen precursor synthesized in the adrenal glands or the brain itself, has anti-glucocorticoid properties, but little is known about the role of DHEA in the stress response, particularly in the brain. Here, we measured the effects of acute restraint on circulating corticosterone (CORT) and DHEA levels in wild song sparrows. Blood was collected from either the brachial or jugular vein. In songbirds, jugular plasma is enriched with neurally synthesized steroids, and therefore, jugular plasma is an indirect index of the neural steroidal milieu. Subjects were sampled during four times of year: breeding, molt, early nonbreeding, and mid-nonbreeding. Baseline CORT and DHEA levels showed similar seasonal changes; both steroids were elevated during the breeding season. Baseline CORT and DHEA levels were similar in jugular and brachial plasma. Acute stress had robust effects on CORT and DHEA that were season specific and vein specific. For CORT, during the molt, stress increased jugular CORT more than brachial CORT. For DHEA, during the breeding season, stress decreased jugular DHEA but not brachial DHEA. During the molt, stress increased jugular DHEA but not brachial DHEA. Acute stress did not affect brachial DHEA. These data suggest that acute stress specifically affects the balance between DHEA synthesis and metabolism in the brain. Furthermore, these results suggest that CORT and DHEA are locally synthesized in the brain during molt, when systemic levels of CORT and DHEA are low.
PMID: 18276756 CAMSID: cams343
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid in human, with the highest concentrations between age 20 and 30, but displaying a significant decrease with age. Many beneficial functions are ascribed to DHEAS. Nevertheless, long-term studies are very scarce concerning the intake of DHEAS over several years, and molecular investigations on DHEAS action are missing so far. In this study, the role of DHEAS on the first and rate-limiting step of steroid hormone biosynthesis was analyzed in a reconstituted in vitro system, consisting of purified CYP11A1, adrenodoxin and adrenodoxin reductase. DHEAS enhances the conversion of cholesterol by 26%. Detailed analyses of the mechanism of DHEAS action revealed increased binding affinity of cholesterol to CYP11A1 and enforced interaction with the electron transfer partner, adrenodoxin. Difference spectroscopy showed Kd-values of 40±2.7 µM and 24.8±0.5 µM for CYP11A1 and cholesterol without and with addition of DHEAS, respectively. To determine the Kd-value for CYP11A1 and adrenodoxin, surface plasmon resonance measurements were performed, demonstrating a Kd-value of 3.0±0.35 nM (with cholesterol) and of 2.4±0.05 nM when cholesterol and DHEAS were added. Kinetic experiments showed a lower Km and a higher kcat value for CYP11A1 in the presence of DHEAS leading to an increase of the catalytic efficiency by 75%. These findings indicate that DHEAS affects steroid hormone biosynthesis on a molecular level resulting in an increased formation of pregnenolone.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an abundant circulating prohormone in humans, with a variety of reported actions on central and peripheral tissues. Despite its abundance, the functions of DHEA are relatively unknown because common animal models (laboratory rats and mice) have very low DHEA levels in the blood. Over the past decade, we have obtained considerable evidence from avian studies demonstrating that (1) DHEA is an important circulating prohormone in songbirds and (2) the enzyme 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/isomerase (3β-HSD), responsible for converting DHEA into a more active androgen, is expressed at high levels in the songbird brain. Here, we first review biochemical and molecular studies demonstrating the widespread activity and expression of 3β-HSD in the adult and developing songbird brain. Studies examining neural 3β-HSD activity show effects of sex, stress, and season that are region-specific. Second, we review studies showing seasonal and stress-related changes in circulating DHEA in captive and wild songbird species. Third, we describe evidence that DHEA treatment can stimulate song behavior and the growth of neural circuits controlling song behavior. Importantly, brain 3β-HSD and aromatase can work in concert to locally metabolize DHEA into active androgens and estrogens, which are critical for controlling behavior and robust adult neuroplasticity in songbirds. DHEA is likely secreted by the avian gonads and/or adrenals, as is the case in humans, but DHEA may also be synthesized de novo in the songbird brain from cholesterol or other precursors. Irrespective of its source, DHEA seems to be an important neurohormone in songbirds, and 3β-HSD is a key enzyme in the songbird brain.
3beta-HSD; adrenal; aggression; aromatase; brain; DHEA; estrogen; neurosteroid; season; song; sparrow; stress; testosterone; zebra finch
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) released by adrenal glands may be converted to androgens and estrogens mainly in the gonadal, adipose, mammary, hepatic and nervous tissue. DHEA is also a key neurosteroid and has antiglucocorticoid activity. DHEA has been used for the treatment of a number of diseases, including obesity; its pharmacological effects depend on large oral doses, which effect rapidly wanes in part because of its short half-life in plasma. Since steroid hormone esters circulate for longer periods, we have studied here whether the administration of DHEA oleoyl ester may extend its pharmacologic availability by keeping high circulating levels.
Tritium-labelled oleoyl-DHEA was given to Wistar male and female rats by gastric tube. The kinetics of appearance of the label in plasma was unrelated to sex; the pattern being largely coincident with the levels of DHEA-sulfate only in females, and after 2 h undistinguishable from the results obtained using labelled DHEA gavages; in the short term, practically no lipophilic DHEA label was found in plasma. After 24 h only a small fraction of the label remained in the rat organs, with a different sex-related distribution pattern coincident for oleoyl- and free- DHEA gavages. The rapid conversion of oleoyl-DHEA into circulating DHEA-sulfate was investigated using stomach, liver and intestine homogenates; which hydrolysed oleoyl-DHEA optimally near pH 8. Duodenum and ileum contained the highest esterase activities. Pure hog pancreas cholesterol-esterase broke down oleoyl-DHEA at rates similar to those of oleoyl-cholesterol. The intestinal and liver esterases were differently activated by taurocholate and showed different pH-activity patterns than cholesterol esterase, suggesting that oleoyl-DHEA can be hydrolysed by a number of esterases in the lumen (e.g. cholesterol-esterase), in the intestinal wall and the liver.
The esterase activities found may condition the pharmacological availability (and depot effect) of orally administered steroid hormone fatty acid esters such as oleoyl-DHEA. The oral administration of oleoyl-DHEA in order to extend DHEA plasma availability has not been proved effective, since the ester is rapidly hydrolysed, probably in the intestine itself, and mainly converted to DHEA-sulfate at least in females.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels and cognitive function decline with age, and a role for DHEAS in supporting cognition has been proposed. Higher DHEAS levels may be associated with better cognitive performance, although potential mechanisms for this relationship are not well established.
We performed a cross-sectional study of the relationship between serum DHEAS and three aspects of cognition—executive function, working memory, and processing speed—in 49 men and 54 women, aged 60–88 years, with low serum DHEAS levels. We examined three potential mechanisms of DHEAS action—sex hormone sufficiency, inflammatory status, and glucose regulation.
After adjustment for multiple covariates, higher serum DHEAS levels were associated with better working memory (standardized beta coefficient 0.50, p < .05), with a trend toward better executive function (standardized beta coefficient 0.37, p < .10) in men only. There was a nonsignificant trend toward a negative association between levels of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and working memory in the combined population (standardized beta coefficient −0.22, p < .10). None of the glucoregulatory measures was associated with cognitive function.
The relationship between DHEAS and cognition is complex and differs by sex and cognitive domain. This study supports the need for further investigations of the sex-specific effects of DHEAS on cognition and its underlying mechanisms of action.
dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEAS; cognition; aging; executive function
The biological basis of variability in histological progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is unknown. Dehydroepiandrosterone(DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone and has been shown to influence sensitivity to oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, and expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and procollagen messenger RNA. Our aim was to determine whether more histologically advanced NAFLD is associated with low circulating levels of DHEA. Serum samples were obtained prospectively at the time of liver biopsy in 439 patients with NAFLD (78 in an initial and 361 in validation cohorts) and in controls with cholestatic liver disease (n = 44). NAFLD was characterized as mild [simple steatosis or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with fibrosis stage 0–2] or advanced (NASH with fibrosis stage 3–4). Serum levels of sulfated DHEA (DHEA-S) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Patients with advanced NAFLD had lower plasma levels of DHEA-S than patients with mild NAFLD in both the initial (0.25 ± 0.07 versus 1.1 ± 0.09 µg/mL, P < 0.001) and validation cohorts (0.47 ± 0.06 versus 0.99 ± 0.04 µg/mL, P < 0.001). A “dose effect” of decreasing DHEA-S and incremental fibrosis stage was observed with a mean DHEA-S of 1.03 ± 0.05, 0.96 ± 0.07, 0.83 ± 0.11, 0.66 ± 0.11, and 0.35 ± 0.06 µg/mL for fibrosis stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. All patients in both cohorts in the advanced NAFLD group had low DHEA-S levels, with the majority in the hypoadrenal range. The association between DHEA-S and severity of NAFLD persisted after adjusting for age. A relationship between disease/fibrosis severity and DHEA-S levels was not seen in patients with cholestatic liver diseases.
More advanced NAFLD, as indicated by the presence of NASH with advanced fibrosis stage, is strongly associated with low circulating DHEA-S. These data provide novel evidence for relative DHEA-S deficiency in patients with histologically advanced NASH.
Human aging is characterized by a marked decrease in circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), hormonal changes associated with cognitive decline. Despite beneficial effects of DHEA supplementation in rodents, studies in elderly humans have generally failed to show cognitive improvement after treatment. In the present study we evaluate the effects of age and estradiol supplementation on expression of genes involved in the de novo synthesis of DHEA and its conversion to estradiol in the rhesus macaque hippocampus. Using RT-PCR we demonstrate the expression of genes associated with this synthesis in several areas of the rhesus brain. Furthermore, real-time PCR reveals an age-related attenuation of hippocampal expression level of the genes CYP17A1, STS, and 3BHSD1/2. Additionally, short-term administration of estradiol is associated with decreased expression of CYP17A1, STS, SULT2B1, and AROMATASE, consistent with a downregulation not only of estrogen synthesis from circulating DHEA, but also of de novo DHEA synthesis within the hippocampus. These findings suggest a decline in neurosteroidogenesis may account for the inefficacy of DHEA supplementation in elderly humans, and that central steroidogenesis may be a function of circulating hormones and menopausal status.
Aging; Dehydroepiandrosterone; Hormone replacement; Menopause; Neurosteroidogenesis
The current paper examines the effect of administering Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on visual-spatial performance in post-menopausal women (N=24, ages 55-80). The concurrent reduction of serum DHEA levels and visual-spatial performance in this population, coupled with the documented effects of DHEA’s androgenic metabolites on visual-spatial performance, suggest that DHEA administration may enhance visual-spatial performance. The current experiment used a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design in which 50 mg of oral DHEA was administered daily in the drug condition to explore this hypothesis. Performance on the Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification, Same-Different Judgment, and Visual Search tasks and serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone, estrone and cortisol were measured in the DHEA and placebo conditions. In contrast to prior experiments using the current methodology that did not demonstrate effects of DHEA administration on episodic and short-term memory tasks, the current experiment demonstrated large beneficial effects of DHEA administration on Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification and Same-Different Judgment. Moreover, DHEA administration enhanced serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone and estrone, and regression analyses demonstrated that levels of DHEA and its metabolites were positively related to cognitive performance on the visual-spatial tasks in the DHEA condition
Dehydroepiadrosterone (DHEA); post-menopausal women; cognition; visual-spatial tasks; androgens
We propose that the adrenal gland of an older higher primate female animal model will respond to a human chorionic gonadotropic (hCG) hormone challenge by secreting additional dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Such a response in surgically and chemically-castrated animals will provide proof-of-concept and a validated animal model for future studies to explore the rise of DHEAS during the menopausal transition of women.
Twenty four 18–26 y/o female cynomolgus monkeys were screened for ovarian function then either ovariectomized (n=4) or treated with a gonadotropic releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) (n=20) to block ovarian steroid production. Following a recovery period from surgery or down-regulation, a single dose challenge (1,000 IU; IM) of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) was then administered in order to determine if LH/CG could accelerate circulating DHEAS production. Serum DHEAS, bioactive LH and urinary metabolites of ovarian sex steroids were monitored before, during and following these treatments.
Circulating LH bioactivity and immunoreactive DHEAS concentrations were suppressed in all animals 14 days post administration of GnRHa. Urinary metabolites of estradiol and progesterone remained low following surgery or the flare reaction to GnRHa. Circulating DHEAS levels were increased following hCG administration and the increase in individual animals was proportional to the pre-treatment DHEAS baseline. Circulating DHEAS concentrations were positively correlated to endogenous LH bioactive concentrations prior to, and were increased by hCG challenge while no concomitant change was observed in ovarian steroid hormone excretion.
These data demonstrate a positive adrenal androgen response to LH/CG in older female higher primates and suggests a mechanism for the rise in adrenal androgen production during the menopausal transition in women. These results also illustrate that the nonhuman primate animal model can be effectively used to investigate this phenomenon.
DHEAS; menopause; adrenal androgens; LH/hCG
The aim was to determine the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) therapy on changes in central adiposity, insulin action, and blood lipids. Many of the actions of DHEA in humans are thought to be mediated through its conversion to sex hormones, which are modulators of adiposity, muscularity, and insulin sensitivity. The effects of DHEA replacement on regional tissue composition, glucose metabolism, and blood lipid profile in older adults have been inconsistent.
a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The intervention was oral DHEA 50 mg/d or placebo for 12 months.
58 women and 61 men, aged 60–88 yr, with low serum DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) levels at study entry.
Computed tomography measures of abdominal fat areas, thigh muscle and fat areas, DXA-derived trunk fat mass, serum glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose challenge, and fasted serum total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides were assessed before and after the intervention.
There were no significant (P > 0.05) differences between the DHEA and placebo groups in the changes in regional tissue composition or glucose metabolism. HDL-cholesterol (P =0.01) and fasted triglycerides (P =0.02) decreased in women and men taking DHEA.
Restoring serum DHEAS levels in older adults to young adult levels for 1 year does not appear to reduce central adiposity or improve insulin action. The benefit of DHEA on decreasing serum triglycerides must be weighed against the HDL-lowering effect.
dehydroepiandrosterone; regional adiposity; insulin action
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), is an excitatory neurosteroid synthesized within the CNS that modulates brain function. Effects associated with augmented DHEAS include learning and memory enhancement. Inhibitors of the steroid sulfatase enzyme increase brain DHEAS levels and can also facilitate learning and memory. This study investigated the effect of steroid sulfatase inhibition on learning and memory in rats with selective cholinergic lesion of the septo-hippocampal tract using passive avoidance and delayed matching to position T-maze (DMP) paradigms. The selective cholinergic immunotoxin 192 IgG-saporin (SAP) was infused into the medial septum of animals and then tested using a step-through passive avoidance paradigm or DMP paradigm. Peripheral administration of the steroid sulfatase inhibitor, DU-14, increased step-through latency following footshock in rats with SAP lesion compared to both vehicle treated control and lesioned animals (p < 0.05). However, in the DMP task, steroid sulfatase inhibition impaired acquisition in lesioned rats while having no effect on intact animals. These results suggest that steroid sulfatase inhibition facilitates memory associated with contextual fear, but impairs acquisition of spatial memory tasks in rats with selective lesion of the septo-hippocampal tract.
steroid sulfatase inhibitors; medial septum; cholinergic lesion; memory retention; spatial learning
A variety of steroids, including pregnenolone sulfate (PREGS) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are synthesized by specific brain cells, and are then delivered to their target sites, where they exert potent effects on neuronal excitability. The present results demonstrate that [3H]DHEAS and [3H]PREGS are relatively high affinity substrates for the organic solute transporter, OSTα–OSTβ, and that the two proteins that constitute this transporter are selectively localized to steroidogenic cells in the cerebellum and hippocampus, namely the Purkinje cells and cells in the CA region in both mouse and human brain. Analysis of Ostα and Ostβ mRNA levels in mouse Purkinje and hippocampal cells isolated via laser capture microdissection supported these findings. In addition, Ostα-deficient mice exhibited changes in serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEAS levels, and in tissue distribution of administered [3H]DHEAS. OSTα and OSTβ proteins were also localized to the zona reticularis of human adrenal gland, the major region for DHEAS production in the periphery. These results demonstrate that OSTα-OSTβ is localized to steroidogenic cells of the brain and adrenal gland, and that it modulates DHEA/DHEAS homeostasis, suggesting that it may contribute to neurosteroid action.
Organic solute transporter; neurosteroid transport; pregnenolone sulfate; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Purkinje cells; CA region of the hippocampus
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an endogenous steroid that blocks carcinogenesis, retards aging, and exerts antiproliferative properties. In vitro, it is a potent inhibitor of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, the first committed step of the pentose phosphate pathway. In man, serum levels of DHEA and its sulfate peak in early adulthood and drop markedly with age. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that low levels of DHEA or its sulfate conjugate are linked to an increased risk of developing cancer or of death from cardiovascular disease. Like cancer, atherosclerosis is a proliferative process characterized by both initiation and promotion phases. This similarity provided a framework in which to study the antiatherogenic effects of DHEA. Rabbits were randomly assigned to four groups. Two groups of rabbits received aortic endothelial injury by balloon catheter and were fed a 2% cholesterol diet for 12 wk. DHEA, 0.5%, was incorporated into the diet of one group receiving the 2% cholesterol diet and endothelial injury and also into the diet of one of the control groups. Animals were killed after 12 wk and aortas, hearts, and livers were studied. Plasma samples were analyzed for total cholesterol, VLDL, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, DHEA, and DHEA-sulfate levels. The atherogenic insult resulted in severe atherosclerosis in animals not treated with DHEA. In those receiving DHEA there was an almost 50% reduction in plaque size (P = 0.006), inversely related to the serum level of DHEA attained. Fatty infiltration of the heart and liver were also markedly reduced. These beneficial actions were not attributable to differences in body weight gain, food intake, total plasma cholesterol or distribution of cholesterol among the VLDL, LDL, or HDL fractions. The results show that high levels of plasma DHEA inhibit the development of atherosclerosis and they provide an important experimental link to the epidemiologic studies correlating low DHEA-sulfate plasma levels with an enhanced risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant neurosteroid synthesized de novo in the central nervous system. We previously reported that stimulation of the sigma-1 receptor by DHEA improves cognitive function by activating calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), protein kinase C and extracellular signal-regulated kinase in the hippocampus in olfactory bulbectomized (OBX) mice. Here, we asked whether DHEA enhances neurogenesis in the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and improves depressive-like behaviors observed in OBX mice. Chronic treatment with DHEA at 30 or 60 mg/kg p.o. for 14 days significantly improved hippocampal LTP impaired in OBX mice concomitant with increased CaMKII autophosphorylation and GluR1 (Ser-831) phosphorylation in the DG. Chronic DHEA treatment also ameliorated depressive-like behaviors in OBX mice, as assessed by tail suspension and forced swim tests, while a single DHEA treatment had no affect. DHEA treatment also significantly increased the number of BrdU-positive neurons in the subgranular zone of the DG of OBX mice, an increase inhibited by treatment with NE-100, a sigma-1 receptor antagonist. DHEA treatment also significantly increased phosphorylation of Akt (Ser-473), Akt (Ser-308) and ERK in the DG. Furthermore, GSK-3β (Ser-9) phosphorylation increased in the DG of OBX mice possibly accounting for increased neurogenesis through Akt activation. Finally, we confirmed that DHEA treatment of OBX mice increases the number of BrdU-positive neurons co-expressing β-catenin, a downstream GSK-3βtarget. Overall, we conclude that sigma-1 receptor stimulation by DHEA ameliorates OBX-induced depressive-like behaviors by increasing neurogenesis in the DG through activation of the Akt/GSK-3β/β-catenin pathway.
Neurosteroids are steroids made by brain cells independently of peripheral steroidogenic sources. The biosynthesis of most neurosteroids is mediated by proteins and enzymes similar to those identified in the steroidogenic pathway of adrenal and gonadal cells. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a major neurosteroid identified in the brain. Over the years we have reported that, unlike other neurosteroids, DHEA biosynthesis in rat, bovine, and human brain is mediated by an oxidative stress-mediated mechanism, independent of the cytochrome P450 17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (CYP17A1) enzyme activity found in the periphery. This alternative pathway is induced by pro-oxidant agents, such as Fe2+ and β-amyloid peptide. Neurosteroids are involved in many aspects of brain function, and as such, are involved in various neuropathologies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is a progressive, yet irreversible neurodegenerative disease for which there are limited means for ante-mortem diagnosis. Using brain tissue specimens from control and AD patients, we provided evidence that DHEA is formed in the AD brain by the oxidative stress-mediated metabolism of an unidentified precursor, thus depleting levels of the precursor in the blood stream. We tested for the presence of this DHEA precursor in human serum using a Fe2+-based reaction and determined the amounts of DHEA formed. Fe2+ treatment of the serum resulted in a dramatic increase in DHEA levels in control patients, whereas only a moderate or no increase was observed in AD patients. The DHEA variation after oxidation correlated with the patients’ cognitive and mental status. In this review, we present the cumulative evidence for oxidative stress as a natural regulator of DHEA formation and the use of this concept to develop a blood-based diagnostic tool for neurodegenerative diseases linked to oxidative stress, such as AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; dehydroepiandrosterone; diagnostic tool; neurosteroids
The neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), produced by neurons and glia, affects multiple processes in the brain, including neuronal survival and neurogenesis during development and in aging. We provide evidence that DHEA interacts with pro-survival TrkA and pro-death p75NTR membrane receptors of neurotrophin nerve growth factor (NGF), acting as a neurotrophic factor: (1) the anti-apoptotic effects of DHEA were reversed by siRNA against TrkA or by a specific TrkA inhibitor; (2) [3H]-DHEA binding assays showed that it bound to membranes isolated from HEK293 cells transfected with the cDNAs of TrkA and p75NTR receptors (KD: 7.4±1.75 nM and 5.6±0.55 nM, respectively); (3) immobilized DHEA pulled down recombinant and naturally expressed TrkA and p75NTR receptors; (4) DHEA induced TrkA phosphorylation and NGF receptor-mediated signaling; Shc, Akt, and ERK1/2 kinases down-stream to TrkA receptors and TRAF6, RIP2, and RhoGDI interactors of p75NTR receptors; and (5) DHEA rescued from apoptosis TrkA receptor positive sensory neurons of dorsal root ganglia in NGF null embryos and compensated NGF in rescuing from apoptosis NGF receptor positive sympathetic neurons of embryonic superior cervical ganglia. Phylogenetic findings on the evolution of neurotrophins, their receptors, and CYP17, the enzyme responsible for DHEA biosynthesis, combined with our data support the hypothesis that DHEA served as a phylogenetically ancient neurotrophic factor.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate ester are the most abundant steroid hormones in humans, and DHEA was described as the first neurosteroid produced in the brain. DHEA is known to participate in multiple events in the brain, including neuronal survival and neurogenesis. However, to date no specific cellular receptor has been described for this important neurosteroid. In this study, we provide evidence that DHEA exerts its neurotrophic effects by directly interacting with the TrkA and p75NTR membrane receptors of nerve growth factor (NGF), and efficiently activates their downstream signaling pathways. This activation prevents the apoptotic loss of NGF receptor positive sensory and sympathetic neurons. The interaction of DHEA with NGF receptors may also offer a mechanistic explanation for the multiple actions of DHEA in other peripheral biological systems expressing NGF receptors, such as the immune, reproductive, and cardiovascular systems.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate form (DHEAS) have been the focus of considerable publicity because of their demonstrated associations with a broad range of health outcomes. Yet, knowledge about the effects of endogenous DHEA(S) on health in humans is limited and often inconclusive, largely because few of the studies have been based on prospective surveys of population-representative samples. This analysis uses a national longitudinal survey in Taiwan to investigate whether DHEAS is associated with subsequent changes (2000–2003) in functional limitations, cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms, and global self-rated health. Multivariate regression models based on this older Taiwanese sample show that among men, lower levels of DHEAS are related to declines in mobility and self-assessed health status and increases in depressive symptoms, while both low and very high levels of DHEAS are associated with poor cognitive function. There are no significant associations among women. These findings differ from those in a previous cross-sectional analysis based on the Taiwan study and underscore the importance of using prospective data to examine the effects of DHEAS on health. The evidence based on this and other longitudinal studies suggests that endogenous DHEAS is related to health outcomes for men, but not women, in both Western and non-Western populations.
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Health; Mental Health; Longitudinal Survey; Aged; Taiwan
DHEA is the major precursor of human sex steroid synthesis and is inactivated via sulfonation to DHEAS. A previous genome-wide association study related the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2637125, located near the coding region of DHEA sulfotransferase, SULT2A1, to serum DHEAS concentrations. However, the functional relevance of this SNP with regard to DHEA sulfonation is unknown. Using data from 3300 participants of the population-based cohort Study of Health in Pomerania, we identified 43 individuals being homozygote for the minor allele of the SNP rs2637125 (AA) and selected two sex- and age-matched individuals with AG and GG genotype (n=172) respectively. Steroid analysis including measurement of serum DHEA and DHEAS was carried out by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, employing steroid oxime analysis for enhancing the sensitivity of DHEA detection. We applied quantile regression models to compare median hormone levels across SULT2A1 genotypes. Median comparisons by SULT2A1 genotype (AA vs AG and GG genotypes respectively) showed no differences in the considered hormones including DHEAS, DHEA, androstenedione, as well as cortisol and cortisone concentrations. SULT2A1 genotype also had no effect on the DHEA/DHEAS ratio. Sex-stratified analyses, as well as alternative use of the SULT2A1 SNP rs182420, yielded similar negative results. Genetic variants of SULT2A1 do not appear to have an effect on individual DHEA and DHEAS concentrations or the DHEA/DHEAS ratio as a marker of DHEA sulfonation capacity.
DHEAS; steroids; genome-wide association study; genetics; epidemiology
The anabolic steroid, dehydroepiandosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), is secreted from the adrenal cortex. It plays a significant role in the body as a precursor to sex steroids as well as a lesser known role in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) response to stress. DHEA-S can be measured reliably in saliva, making saliva collection a valuable tool for health research because it minimizes the need for invasive sampling procedures (e.g., blood draws). Typical saliva collection methods include the use of plain cotton swab collection devices (e.g., Salivette®) or passive drool. There has been some speculation that the plain saliva cotton collection device may interfere with determination of DHEA-S by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) bringing this saliva collection method into question. Because of the increasing popularity of salivary biomarker research, we sought to determine whether the cotton swab interferes with DHEA-S determination through EIA techniques.
Fifty-six healthy young adult men and women aged 18-30 years came to the lab in the morning (0800 hrs; 14 men, 14 women) or late afternoon (1600 hrs; 14 men, 14 women) and provided saliva samples via cotton Salivette and passive drool. Passive drool collection was taken first to minimize particle cross contamination from the cotton swab. Samples were assayed for DHEA-S in duplicate using a commercially available kit (DSL, Inc., Webster, TX). DHEA-S levels collected via Salivette and passive drool were positively correlated (r = + 0.83, p < 0.05). Mean DHEA-S levels were not significantly different between collection methods. Salivary DHEA-S levels were significantly higher in males than in females, regardless of saliva collection method (p < 0.05), and morning DHEA-S values were higher than evening levels (p < 0.05).
Results suggest that DHEA-S can be measured accurately using passive drool or cotton Salivette collection methods. Results also suggest that DHEA-S levels change across the day and that future studies need to take this time of day difference into account when measuring DHEA-S.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and the dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) are steroids produced mainly by the adrenal cortex. There is evidence from both human and animal models suggesting beneficial effects of these steroids for obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteoporosis, conditions associated with the post-menopausal period. Accordingly, we hypothesized that DHEA supplementation in ovariectomized (OVX) female rats fed a high-fat diet would maintain glucose-induced insulin secretion (GSIS) and pancreatic islet function. OVX resulted in a 30% enlargement of the pancreatic islets area compared to the control rats, which was accompanied by a 50% reduction in the phosphorylation of AKT protein in the pancreatic islets. However, a short-term high-fat diet induced insulin resistance, accompanied by impaired GSIS in isolated pancreatic islets. These effects were reversed by DHEA treatment, with improved insulin sensitivity to levels similar to the control group, and with increased serine phosphorylation of the AKT protein. These data confirm the protective effect of DHEA on the endocrine pancreas in a situation of diet-induced overweight and low estrogen concentrations, a phenotype similar to that of the post-menopausal period.
•Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a physiological precursor of androgens and estrogens.•Ovariectomized rats fed a high-fat diet showed insulin resistance and impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion.•These effects were reversed by DHEA treatment, with improved insulin secretion and sensitivity.
High fat diet; Menopause; Pancreatic islets; Insulin sensitivity; Insulin secretion; p-Akt/Akt; DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEA-S, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; HFD, high-fat diet; SHAM, sham-operated rats; SHL, sham rats fed a HFD; OVX, ovariectomized rats; OHL, ovariectomized rats fed HFD; OHLD, ovariectomized rats fed a HFD and treated with DHEA; Kitt, glucose disappearance rate; GTT, glucose tolerance test; GSIS, glucose-induced insulin secretion; SDS–PAGE, sodium dodecyl sulfate poly-acrylamide electrophoresis; PI, propidium iodide; PI3K, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase; PI3K-PDK1-Akt, PI3K-3-phosphoinositide dependent kinase-Akt
The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a novel steroid, fluasterone (DHEF, a dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) analog), at improving functional recovery in a rat model of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The lateral cortical impact model was utilized in two studies of efficacy and therapeutic window. DHEF was given (25 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) at the initial time point and once a day for 2 more days. Study A included four groups: sham injury, vehicle treated (n = 22); injured, vehicle treated (n = 30); injured, pretreated (5–10 min prior to injury, n = 24); and injured, posttreated (initial dose 30 min postinjury, n = 15). Study B (therapeutic window) included five groups: sham injury, vehicle treated (n = 17); injured, vehicle treated (n = 26); and three posttreatment groups: initial dose at 30 min (n = 18), 2 h (n = 23), or 12 h (n = 16) postinjury. Three criteria were used to grade functional recovery. In study A, DHEF improved beam walk performance both with pretreatment (79%) and 30-min posttreatment group (54%; p < 0.01, Dunnett vs. injured vehicle). In study B, the 12-h posttreatment group showed a 97% improvement in beam walk perfomance (p < 0.01, Dunnett). The 30-min and 12-h posttreatment groups showed a decreased incidence of falls from the beam, which reached statistical significance (p < 0.05, Dunnett). Tests of memory (Morris water maze) and neurological reflexes both revealed significant improvements in all DHEF treatment groups. In cultured rat mesangial cells, DHEF (and DHEA) potently inhibited interleukin-1β–induced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) mRNA and prostaglandin (PGE2) production. In contrast, DHEF treatment did not alter injury-induced COX2 mRNA levels in the cortex or hippocampus. However, DHEF (and DHEA) relaxed ex vivo bovine middle cerebral artery preparations by about 30%, with an IC50 ≈ 40 μM. This was a direct effect on the vascular smooth muscle, independent of the endothelial cell layer. Fluasterone (DHEF) treatments improved functional recovery in a rat TBI model. Possible mechanisms of action for this novel DHEA analog are discussed. These findings suggest an exciting potential use for this agent in the clinical treatment of traumatic brain injury.
cyclooxygenase-2; neurosteroid; rat traumatic brain injury
Mental fatigue, cognitive disorders, and sleep disturbances seen in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be attributed to cholinergic deficit. A functional deficiency of cholinergic neurotransmission may cause the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hypoactivity seen in CFS. Therefore, we investigated the alterations in stress hormones such as cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in CFS patients before and after 4-week administration of galantamine hydrobromide, a selective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, and aimed to investigate whether there are any relationships between the probable hormonal changes and cholinergic treatment.
Basal levels of cortisol and DHEAS were measured in 29 untreated CFS patients who were diagnosed according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria and in 20 healthy controls. In the patient group, four weeks after 8 mg/d galantamine hydrobromide treatment, cortisol and DHEAS levels were measured again. After the treatment 22 patients who stayed in study were divided into two subgroups as responders and nonresponders according to the reduction in their Newcastle Research Group ME/CFS Score Card (NRG) scores.
Important findings of this study are lower pre-and post-treatment cortisol levels and in all CFS patients compared to controls (F=4.129, p=0.049; F=4.803, p=0.035, respectively); higher basal DHEAS values and higher DHEAS/cortisol molar ratios which were normalized following four weeks' treatment with 8 mg/d galantamine hydrobromide in the treatment-respondent group (F=5.382, p=0.029; F=5.722, p=0.025, respectively).
The findings of the decrease in basal DHEAS levels and DHEAS/cortisol molar ratios normalizing with galantamine treatment may give some support to the cholinergic deficit hypothesis in CFS.
Chronic fatigue syndrome; Cortisol; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Galantamine hydrobromide
Rapid and accurate risk stratification in patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is an unmet clinical need. Cortisol to dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) ratio was put forward as a prognostic marker in sepsis. We herein validated the prognostic value of the adrenal hormones DHEA, DHEA-Sulfate (DHEAS), cortisol/DHEA-, cortisol/DHEAS- and DHEA/DHEAS – ratios in patients with CAP.
We assessed severity of illness using the pneumonia severity index (PSI) and measured adrenal hormone concentrations in 179 serum samples of prospectively recruited patients hospitalized with CAP. We calculated spearman rank correlation, logistic regression analysis and Kaplan Meier curves to study associations of adrenal hormones and outcomes.
There was a significant correlation between PSI score and total cortisol (r = 0.24, p = 0.001), DHEAS (r = −0.23, p = 0.002), cortisol/DHEA (r = 0.23, p = 0.003), cortisol/DHEAS (r = 0.32, p = <0.0001) and DHEA/DHEAS (r = 0.20, p = 0.009). In age and gender adjusted logistic regression analysis, cortisol (OR: 2.8, 95% CI: 1.48–5.28) and DHEA (OR: 2.62, 95% CI: 1.28–5.34), but not DHEAS and the different ratios were associated with all-cause mortality. The discriminatory accuracy of cortisol and DHEA in ROC analysis (area under the curve) was 0.74 and 0.61. In Kaplan Meier analysis, patients in the highest deciles of cortisol and DHEA (p = 0.005 and p = 0.015), and to a lesser extent of cortisol/DHEAS ratio (p = 0.081) had a higher risk of death.
Cortisol, DHEAS and their ratios correlate with CAP severity, and cortisol and DHEA predict mortality. Adrenal function in severe pneumonia may be an important factor for CAP outcomes.
Prolonged increases in plasma glucocorticoids can exacerbate neurodegeneration. In rats, these neurodegenerative effects can be reduced by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an androgen precursor with anti-glucocorticoid actions. In song sparrows, season and acute restraint stress affect circulating levels of corticosterone and DHEA, and the effects of stress differ in plasma collected from the brachial and jugular veins. Jugular plasma is an indirect index of the neural steroidal milieu. Here, we directly measured corticosterone and DHEA in several brain regions and jugular plasma, and examined the effects of season and acute restraint stress (30 min) (n = 571 samples). Corticosterone levels were up to 10× lower in brain than in jugular plasma. In contrast, DHEA levels were up to 5× higher in brain than in jugular plasma and were highest in the hippocampus. Corticosterone and DHEA concentrations were strongly seasonally regulated in plasma but, surprisingly, not seasonally regulated in brain. Acute stress increased corticosterone levels in plasma and brain, except during the molt, when stress unexpectedly decreased corticosterone levels in the hippocampus. Acute stress increased DHEA levels in plasma during the molt but had no effects on DHEA levels in brain. This is the first study to measure (i) corticosterone or DHEA levels in the brain of adult songbirds and (ii) seasonal changes in corticosterone or DHEA levels in the brain of any species. These results highlight several critical differences between systemic and local steroid concentrations and the difficulty of using circulating steroid levels to infer local steroid levels within the brain.
PMID: 19473242 CAMSID: cams333
DHEA; glucocorticoid; hippocampus; molt; neurosteroid; song sparrow