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1.  Human Prostate Stromal Cells Stimulate Increased PSA Production in DHEA-treated Prostate Cancer Epithelial Cells 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is commonly used as a dietary supplement and may affect prostate pathophysiology when metabolized to androgens and/or estrogens. Human prostate LAPC-4 cancer cells with a wild type androgen receptor (AR), were treated with DHEA, androgens (DHT, T, or R1881), and E2 and assayed for PSA protein and gene expression. In LAPC-4 monocultures, DHEA and E2 induced little or no increase in PSA protein or mRNA expression compared to androgen-treated cells. When prostate cancer-associated (6S) stromal cells were added in coculture, DHEA stimulated LAPC-4 cell PSA protein secretion to levels approaching induction by DHT. Also, DHEA induced 15-fold more PSA mRNA in LAPC-4 cocultures than in monocultures. LAPC-4 proliferation was increased 2–3 fold when cocultured with 6S stromal cells regardless of hormone treatment. DHEA-treated 6S stromal cells exhibited a dose- and time-dependent increase in T secretion, demonstrating stromal cell metabolism of DHEA to T. Coculture with non-cancerous stroma did not induce LAPC-4 PSA production, suggesting a differential modulation of DHEA effect in a cancer-associated prostate stromal environment. This coculture model provides a research approach to reveal detailed endocrine, intracrine, and paracrine signaling between stromal and epithelial cells that regulate tissue homeostasis within the prostate, and the role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC2570207  PMID: 18621129
DHEA; stromal; prostate; PSA; coculture
2.  Dehydroepiandrosterone-dependent induction of peroxisomal proliferation can be reduced by aspartyl esterification without attenuation of inhibitory bone loss in ovariectomy animal model. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2000;15(5):533-541.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether esterification of dehydroepiandrosterone with aspartate (DHEA-aspartate) could reduce peroxisomal proliferation induced by DHEA itself, without loss of antiosteoporotic activity. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized, then DHEA or DHEA-aspartate was administered intraperitoneally at 0.34 mmol/kg BW 3 times a week for 8 weeks. DHEA-aspartate treatment in ovariectomized rats significantly increased trabeculae area in tibia as much as DHEA treatment. Urinary Ca excretion was not significantly increased by DHEA or DHEA-aspartate treatment in ovariectomized rats, while it was significantly increased by ovariectomy. Osteocalcin concentration and alkaline phosphatase activity in serum and cross linked N-telopeptide type I collagen level in urine were not significantly different between DHEA-aspartate and DHEA treated groups. DHEA-aspartate treatment significantly reduced liver weight and hepatic palmitoyl-coA oxidase activity compared to DHEA treatment. DHEA-aspartate treatment maintained a nearly normal morphology of peroxisomes, while DHEA treatment increased the number and size of peroxisomes in the liver. According to these results, it is concluded that DHEA-aspartate ester has an inhibitory effect on bone loss in ovariectomized rats with a marked reduction of hepatomegaly and peroxisomal proliferation compared to DHEA.
PMCID: PMC3054677  PMID: 11068990
3.  DHEA metabolism in prostate: For better or worse? 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is commonly used in the USA as a nutritional supplement for antiaging, metabolic support or other uses. Investigations into understanding the effects of DHEA on human prostate cancer progression have posed more questions than answers and highlight the importance of communications between stromal and epithelial elements within the prostate that contribute to the regulation of DHEA metabolism. Intracrine metabolism of DHEA to androgens (A) and/or estrogens (E) may occur in one cell compartment (stromal) which may release paracrine hormones or growth/inhibitory factors to the epithelial cells. Alternatively no metabolism of DHEA may occur, resulting in no harmful consequences of high levels of DHEA in prostate tissues. We herein review the tissue components involved and interactions with the prohormone, DHEA and/or resulting metabolites, including dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or 17β-Estradiol (E2) in an in-vitro model of endocrine-immune-paracrine interactions within the prostate. This work raises questions and hypotheses concerning the role of DHEA in prostate in normal tissues, vs. preneoplastic tissues.
PMCID: PMC2667103  PMID: 19013497
DHEA; TGF β1; Androgen Receptor; Estrogen Receptor; stromal; epithelial prostate; PSA; testosterone; coculture; red clover isoflavones
4.  DHEA metabolites activate estrogen receptors alpha and beta 
Steroids  2012;78(1):15-25.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels were reported to associate with increased breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, but some carcinogen-induced rat mammary tumor studies question this claim. The purpose of this study was to determine how DHEA and its metabolites affect estrogen receptors α or β (ERα or ERβ) -regulated gene transcription and cell proliferation. In transiently transfected HEK-293 cells, androstenediol, DHEA, and DHEA-S activated ERα. In ERβ transfected HepG2 cells, androstenedione, DHEA, androstenediol, and 7-oxo DHEA stimulated reporter activity. ER antagonists ICI 182,780 (fulvestrant) and 4-hydroxytamoxifen, general P450 inhibitor miconazole, and aromatase inhibitor exemestane inhibited activation by DHEA or metabolites in transfected cells. ERβ-selective antagonist R,R-THC (R,R-cis-diethyl tetrahydrochrysene) inhibited DHEA and DHEA metabolite transcriptional activity in ERβ-transfected cells. Expression of endogenous estrogen-regulated genes: pS2, progesterone receptor, cathepsin D1, and nuclear respiratory factor-1 was increased by DHEA and its metabolites in an ER-subtype, gene, and cell-specific manner. DHEA metabolites, but not DHEA, competed with 17β-estradiol for ERα and ERβ binding and stimulated MCF-7 cell proliferation, demonstrating that DHEA metabolites interact directly with ERα and ERβ in vitro, modulating estrogen target genes in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3529809  PMID: 23123738
estrogen receptors; DHEA; androstendione; androstendiol; transcription
5.  DHEA supplementation in ovariectomized rats reduces impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion induced by a high-fat diet☆ 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:141-146.
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.
PMCID: PMC3907747  PMID: 24490138
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
6.  Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation on bone mineral density, bone markers, and body composition in older adults 
We present results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to examine the effect of 50 mg daily oral DHEA supplementation for one year on bone mineral density (BMD), bone metabolism and body composition in 225 healthy adults aged 55 to 85 years.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels decline dramatically with age, concurrent with the onset of osteoporosis, suggesting a role for DHEA supplementation in preventing age-related bone loss.
We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to examine the effect of 50 mg daily oral DHEA supplementation for one year on bone mineral density (BMD), bone metabolism and body composition in 225 healthy adults aged 55 to 85 years.
DHEA treatment increased serum DHEA and DHEA sulfate levels to concentrations seen in young adults. Testosterone, estradiol and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels increased in women (all p<0.001), but not men, receiving DHEA. Serum C-terminal telopeptide of type-1 collagen levels decreased in women (p=0.03), but not men, whereas bone-specific alkaline phosphatase levels were not significantly altered in either sex. After 12 months, there was a positive effect of DHEA on lumbar spine BMD in women (p=0.03), but no effect was observed for hip, femoral neck or total body BMD, and no significant changes were observed at any site among men. Body composition was not affected by DHEA treatment in either sex.
Among older healthy adults, daily administration of 50 mg of DHEA has a modest and selective beneficial effect on BMD and bone resorption in women, but provides no bone benefit for men.
PMCID: PMC2435090  PMID: 18084691
Body composition; Bone metabolism; Bone mineral density (BMD); Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels; Placebo-controlled trial; Testosterone
7.  In rats, oral oleoyl-DHEA is rapidly hydrolysed and converted to DHEA-sulphate 
BMC Pharmacology  2007;7:4.
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.
PMCID: PMC1831771  PMID: 17346356
8.  Enhancement of Cognitive and Electrophysiological Measures of Hippocampal Functioning in Rats by a Low, But Not High, Dose of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEAS) 
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a steroid hornone that is synthesized, de novo, in the brain. Endogenous DHEAS levels correlate with the quality of mental and physical health, where the highest levels of DHEAS occur in healthy young adults and reduced levels of DHEAS are found with advanced age, disease, or extreme stress. DHEAS supplementation, therefore, may serve as a therapeutic agent against a broad range of maladies. This paper summarizes laboratory findings on dose-response relationships between DHEAS and cognitive and electrophysiological measures of hippocampal functioning. It was found that a low, but not a high, dose of DHEAS enhanced hippocampal primed burst potentiation (a physiological model of memory) as well as spatial (hippocampal-dependent) memory in rats. This complex dose-response function of DHEAS effects on the brain and memory may contribute toward the inconsistent findings that have been obtained by other investigators in studies on DHEAS administration in people.
PMCID: PMC2657507  PMID: 19330152
neurosteroid; dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEA; hippocampus; long-term potentiation; memory
9.  Androstenediol Complements Estrogenic Bioactivity during the Menopausal Transition 
Menopause (New York, N.y.)  2012;19(6):650-657.
The perimenopausal increase in circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels during the menopausal transition (MT) is accompanied by other adrenal steroids that have the potential to alter the estrogen/androgen balance and explain the wide inter-woman range of estrogen-related symptoms experienced during the MT.
Annual serum samples from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which had previously been analyzed for immunoreactive estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), DHEAS and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), were selected based on DHEAS concentration and analyzed for immunoreactive and bioactive estrogens and androgens, including immunoreactive androstenedione (Adione), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 5-androstene-3β,17β-diol (androstenediol, Adiol).
A two-fold increase in circulating Adione and T was found to rise in parallel with the rise in circulating DHEAS, while DHEA and Adiol concentrations rose seven to eightfold. Circulating Adiol, which has both androgenic and estrogenic biological activity, was significantly associated (p<0.02) with circulating estrogen bioactivity only when E2 concentrations were low and Adiol levels were high.
The wide range of circulating levels of Adiol and its contribution to total circulating estrogenicity during the MT is consistent with the observed inter-woman difference in symptoms at this time. Therefore, we conclude that Adiol contributes to circulating estrogenicity when E2 production falls at menopause and may contribute significantly to the endocrine changes experienced by midlife women.
PMCID: PMC3366061  PMID: 22415563
Androstenediol; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
10.  Adrenal Androgen Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Inhibits Vascular Remodeling Following Arterial Injury 
Atherosclerosis  2009;206(1):77-85.
Recent epidemiologic studies have suggested that serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels have a significant inverse correlation with the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. However, direct evidence for the association with DHEAS and vascular disorders has not yet been explored. DHEAS significantly reduced neointima formation 28 days after surgery without altering other serum metabolite levels in a rabbit carotid balloon injury model. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed the reduction of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) index and increase of TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) index, expressing differentiated vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) markers in the media 7 days after surgery. In vitro, DHEAS exhibited inhibitory effects on VSMC proliferation and migration activities, inducing G1 cell cycle arrest with upregulation of one of the cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors p16INK4a and apoptosis with activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α in VSMCs. DHEAS inhibits vascular remodeling reducing neointima formation after vascular injury via its effects on VSMC phenotypic modulation, functions and apoptosis upregulating p16INK4a/activating PPARα. DHEAS may play a pathophysiological role for vascular remodeling in cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2735614  PMID: 19298964
hormones; restenosis; vascular smooth muscle cell; apoptosis
11.  Neurosteroid transport by the organic solute transporter OSTα-OSTβ 
Journal of neurochemistry  2010;115(1):220-233.
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.
PMCID: PMC2939961  PMID: 20649839
Organic solute transporter; neurosteroid transport; pregnenolone sulfate; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Purkinje cells; CA region of the hippocampus
12.  Tumour necrosis factor-α stimulates dehydroepiandrosterone metabolism in human fibroblast-like synoviocytes: a role for nuclear factor-κB and activator protein-1 in the regulation of expression of cytochrome p450 enzyme 7b 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1271-R1280.
Glucocorticoids have successfully been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Data suggest that 7α-hydroxy-dehydroepiandrosterone (7α-OH-DHEA), an immunostimulating metabolite of dehydroepiandrosterone, can block glucocorticoid-induced immune suppression. Formation of 7α-OH-DHEA is catalyzed by activity of cytochrome p450 enzyme 7b (Cyp7b). Recently, we reported that tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-1α, IL-1β and IL-17 enhance Cyp7b mRNA expression and induce a concomitant increase in the formation of 7α-OH-DHEA by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from rheumatoid arthritis patients. The aim of this study was to elucidate which signal transduction pathway is involved in the TNF-α-mediated induction of Cyp7b activity in FLS. We studied the effects of inhibitors of different signal transduction pathways on Cyp7b activity in FLS by measuring Cyp7b mRNA expression using reverse transcription PCR and by measuring the formation of 7α-OH-DHEA. We applied SN50, an inhibitor of nuclear translocation of transcription factors (i.e. activator protein-1 [AP-1] and nuclear factor-κB [NF-κB]); PSI, a proteasome inhibitor that prevents IκB degradation and thereby NF-κB release; SP600125, a c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor; and the mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors PD98059 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) and SB203580 (p38). Cyp7b is constitutively expressed in RA FLS and can be activated in response to TNF-α. SN50 and PSI prevented the TNF-α-induced increase in Cyp7b activity, whereas the mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors PD98059 and SB203580 had no effect. In addition, inhibition of Cyp7b mRNA expression and activity was observed with SN50, PSI and SP600125, suggesting that NF-κB and AP-1 induce Cyp7b transcription. These findings suggest that NF-κB and AP-1 are involved in the TNF-α-enhanced formation of the dehydroepiandrosterone metabolite 7α-OH-DHEA. Our results are in accordance with presence of AP-1 and NF-κB binding sites in the Cyp7b promoter.
PMCID: PMC1297571  PMID: 16277680
13.  The effect of gonadal and adrenal steroid therapy on skeletal health in adolescents and young women with anorexia nervosa 
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by subnormal estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels. We sought to determine whether the combination of DHEA + estrogen/progestin is superior to placebo in preserving skeletal health over 18 months in AN. Females with AN, aged 13 to 27 years, were recruited for participation in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Ninety-four subjects were randomized, of whom 80 completed baseline assessments and received either study drug (oral micronized DHEA 50 mg + 20 µg ethinyl estradiol/0.1 mg levonorgestrel combined oral contraceptive pill [COC] daily; n = 43) or placebo (n = 37). Serial measurements of areal bone mineral density (aBMD), bone turnover markers, and serum hormone concentrations were obtained. Sixty subjects completed the 18-month trial. Spinal and whole-body aBMD z scores were preserved in the DHEA + COC group, but decreased in the placebo group (comparing trends, P = .008 and P = .001, respectively). Bone turnover markers initially declined in subjects receiving DHEA + COC and then returned to baseline. No differences in body composition, adverse effects of therapy, or alterations in biochemical safety parameters were observed. Combined therapy with DHEA + COC appears to be safe and effective for preventing bone loss in young women with AN, whereas placebo led to decreases in aBMD. Dehydroepiandrosterone + COC may be safely used to preserve bone mass as efforts to reverse the nutritional, psychological, and other hormonal components of AN are implemented.
PMCID: PMC3465078  PMID: 22257645
14.  Dehydroepiandrosterone inhibits the progression phase of mammary carcinogenesis by inducing cellular senescence via a p16-dependent but p53-independent mechanism 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(6):R1132-R1140.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an adrenal 17-ketosteroid, is a precursor of testosterone and 17β-estradiol. Studies have shown that DHEA inhibits carcinogenesis in mammary gland and prostate as well as other organs, a process that is not hormone dependent. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms of DHEA-mediated inhibition of the neoplastic process. Here we examine whether DHEA and its analog DHEA 8354 can suppress the progression of hyperplastic and premalignant (carcinoma in situ) lesions in mammary gland toward malignant tumors and the cellular mechanisms involved.
Rats were treated with N-nitroso-N-methylurea and allowed to develop mammary hyperplastic and premalignant lesions with a maximum frequency 6 weeks after carcinogen administration. The animals were then given DHEA or DHEA 8354 in the diet at 125 or 1,000 mg/kg diet for 6 weeks. The effect of these agents on induction of apoptosis, senescence, cell proliferation, tumor burden and various effectors of cellular signaling were determined.
Both agents induced a dose-dependent decrease in tumor multiplicity and in tumor burden. In addition they induced a senescent phenotype in tumor cells, inhibited cell proliferation and increased the number of apoptotic cells. The DHEA-induced cellular effects were associated with increased expression of p16 and p21, but not p53 expression, implicating a p53-independent mechanism in their action.
We provide evidence that DHEA and DHEA 8354 can suppress mammary carcinogenesis by altering various cellular functions, inducing cellular senescence, in tumor cells with the potential involvement of p16 and p21 in mediating these effects.
PMCID: PMC1410767  PMID: 16457693
15.  Dehydroepiandrosterone Stimulates Nerve Growth Factor and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Cortical Neurons 
Due to the increasing cases of neurodegenerative diseases in recent years, the eventual goal of nerve repair is very important. One approach for achieving a neuronal cell induction is by regenerative pharmacology. Nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are neurotrophins that play roles in neuronal development, differentiation, and protection. On the other hand, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a neurosteroid which has multiple actions in the nervous system. DHEA could be an important agent in regenerative pharmacology for neuronal differentiation during tissue regeneration. In this study, we investigated the possible role of DHEA to modulate NGF and BDNF production. The in vivo level of neurotrophins expression was demonstrated by ELISA in rat harvested brain cortex. Also neurotrophins expression after DHEA treatment was revealed by the increased neurite extension, immunostaining, and BrdU labeling in rats. Anti-NGF and anti-BDNF antibodies were used as suppressive agents on neurogenesis. The results showed that NGF and BDNF are overproduced after DHEA treatment but there is not any overexpression for NT-3 and NT-4. Also DHEA increased neurite extension and neural cell proliferation significantly. Overall, DHEA might induce NGF and BDNF neurotrophins overproduction in cortical neurons which promotes neural cell protection, survival, and proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3867952  PMID: 24381588
Neuroscience  2008;158(4):1644-1651.
The 5-HT re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine and the adrenal hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) both increase the proliferation of progenitor cells in the adult hippocampus and also have antidepressant activity. This paper explores the combined ability of fluoxetine and DHEA to affect this process in the dentate gyrus of adult rats. We show that DHEA can render an otherwise ineffective dose of fluoxetine (2.5 mg/kg) able to increase progenitor cell proliferation to the same extent as doses four times higher (10 mg/kg). This synergistic action does not appear to be mediated by alterations in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression; or by TrkB, mineralocorticoid, glucocorticoid, or 5-HT (5HT1A) receptor expression in the dentate gyrus; or by altered levels of plasma corticosterone. In a second experiment, the synergism between DHEA and fluoxetine was replicated. Furthermore, flattening the diurnal rhythm of plasma corticosterone by implanting additional corticosterone pellets s.c. prevented the effect of fluoxetine on progenitor cell division. This was not overcome by simultaneous treatment with DHEA, despite the latter’s reported anti-glucocorticoid actions. The cellular mechanism for the potentiating action of DHEA on the pro- proliferative effects of fluoxetine in the adult hippocampus remains to be revealed. Since altered neurogenesis has been linked to the onset or recovery from depression, one consequence of these results is to suggest DHEA as a useful adjunct therapy for depression.
PMCID: PMC2653077  PMID: 19068226
neurogenesis; fluoxetine; dehydroepiandrosterone; corticosterone; synergism; dentate gyrus
17.  Modulation of Receptor Phosphorylation Contributes to Activation of Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor α by Dehydroepiandrosterone and Other Peroxisome Proliferators 
Molecular pharmacology  2007;73(3):968-976.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a C19 human adrenal steroid, activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) in vivo but does not ligand-activate PPARα in transient transfection experiments. We demonstrate that DHEA regulates PPARα action by altering both the levels and phosphorylation status of the receptor. Human hepatoma cells (HepG2) were transiently transfected with the expression plasmid encoding PPARα and a plasmid containing two copies of fatty acyl coenzyme oxidase (FACO) peroxisome-proliferator activated receptor responsive element consensus oligonucleotide in a luciferase reporter gene. Nafenopin treatment increased reporter gene activity in this system, whereas DHEA treatment did not. Okadaic acid significantly decreased nafenopin-induced reporter activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Okadaic acid treatment of primary rat hepatocytes decreased both DHEA- and nafenopin-induced FACO activity in primary rat hepatocytes. DHEA induced both PPARα mRNA and protein levels, as well as PP2A message in primary rat hepatocytes. Western blot analysis showed that the serines at positions 12 and 21 were rapidly dephosphorylated upon treatment with DHEA and nafenopin. Results using specific protein phosphatase inhibitors suggested that protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is responsible for DHEA action, and protein phosphatase 1 might be involved in nafenopin induction. Mutation of serines at position 6, 12, and 21 to an uncharged alanine residue significantly increased transcriptional activity, whereas mutation to negative charged aspartate residues (mimicking receptor phosphorylation) decreased transcriptional activity. DHEA action involves induction of PPARα mRNA and protein levels as well as increased PPARα transcriptional activity through decreasing receptor phosphorylation at serines in the AF1 region.
PMCID: PMC2423814  PMID: 18079279
18.  Interactive Effects of Dehydroepiandrosterone and Testosterone on Cortical Thickness during Early Brain Development 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(26):10840-10848.
Humans and the great apes are the only species demonstrated to exhibit adrenarche, a key endocrine event associated with prepubertal increases in the adrenal production of androgens, most significantly dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and to a certain degree testosterone. Adrenarche also coincides with the emergence of the prosocial and neurobehavioral skills of middle childhood and may therefore represent a human-specific stage of development. Both DHEA and testosterone have been reported in animal and in vitro studies to enhance neuronal survival and programmed cell death depending on the timing, dose, and hormonal context involved, and to potentially compete for the same signaling pathways. Yet no extant brain-hormone studies have examined the interaction between DHEA- and testosterone-related cortical maturation in humans. Here, we used linear mixed models to examine changes in cortical thickness associated with salivary DHEA and testosterone levels in a longitudinal sample of developmentally healthy children and adolescents 4–22 years old. DHEA levels were associated with increases in cortical thickness of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, right temporoparietal junction, right premotor and right entorhinal cortex between the ages of 4–13 years, a period marked by the androgenic changes of adrenarche. There was also an interaction between DHEA and testosterone on cortical thickness of the right cingulate cortex and occipital pole that was most significant in prepubertal subjects. DHEA and testosterone appear to interact and modulate the complex process of cortical maturation during middle childhood, consistent with evidence at the molecular level of fast/nongenomic and slow/genomic or conversion-based mechanisms underlying androgen-related brain development.
PMCID: PMC3693059  PMID: 23804104
19.  DHEA-dependent and organ-specific regulation of TNF-α mRNA expression in a murine polymicrobial sepsis and trauma model 
Critical Care  2009;13(4):R114.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) improves survival after trauma and sepsis, while mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood. Therefore, we investigated the influence of DHEA on local cytokine expression in a two-hit model.
Male NMRI mice were subjected to femur fracture/hemorrhagic shock and subsequent sepsis. Sham-operated animals were used as controls. DHEA (25 mg/kg) or vehicle was administered daily. Mortality rate, activity and body temperature were determined daily after sepsis induction. TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-10 mRNA expression pattern were investigated in lung and liver tissue after 48 and 96 hours.
DHEA treatment resulted in a significantly reduced mortality rate and improvements in the clinical status. On cytokine level, only TNF-α was significantly reduced in the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)-vehicle group in both tissues after 48 hours. This suppression could be restored by DHEA administration. In contrast, after 96 hours, TNF-α was up-regulated in the CLP-vehicle group while remaining moderate by DHEA treatment in liver tissue.
The improved outcome after DHEA treatment and trauma is coherent with restoration of TNF-α in liver and lung after 48 hours and a counter-regulatory attenuation of TNF-α in liver after 96 hours. Thus, DHEA seems to act, time and organ dependent, as a potent modulator of TNF-α expression.
PMCID: PMC2750161  PMID: 19594900
20.  Endocrine-Immune-Paracrine Interactions In Prostate Cells: A Model For Mechanistic Studies Of Phytomedicines 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is used as a dietary supplement and can be metabolized to androgens and/or estrogens in the prostate. We investigated the hypothesis that DHEA metabolism may be increased in a reactive prostate stroma environment in the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TGFβ1 and further, whether red clover extract, which contains a variety of compounds including isoflavones, can reverse this effect. LAPC-4 prostate cancer cells were grown in coculture with prostate stromal cells (6S), and treated with DHEA +/- TGFβ1 or IL-6. PSA expression and testosterone (T) secretion in LAPC4/6S cocultures were compared with those in monocultured epithelial and stromal cells using real time PCR and/or ELISA. Combined administration of TGFβ1+DHEA to cocultures increased PSA protein secretion 2-4 times, and PSA gene expression up to 50-fold. DHEA + TGFβ1 also increased coculture production of testosterone over DHEA treatment alone. Red clover isoflavone treatment led to a dose-dependent decrease in PSA protein and gene expression and T metabolism induced by TGFβ1+DHEA in prostate LAPC-4/6S cocultures. In this coculture model of endocrine-immune-paracrine interactions in the prostate, TGFβ1 greatly increased stromal-mediated DHEA effects on T production and epithelial cell PSA production, whereas red clover isoflavones reversed these effects.
PMCID: PMC2757651  PMID: 19141600
DHEA; TGFβ1; stromal; prostate; PSA; testosterone; coculture; red clover isoflavones
21.  Oral dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) replacement in older adults: effects on central adiposity, glucose metabolism, and blood lipids 
Clinical endocrinology  2011;75(4):456-463.
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.
PMCID: PMC3166648  PMID: 21521341
dehydroepiandrosterone; regional adiposity; insulin action
22.  Aging of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in nonhuman primates with depression-like and aggressive behavior 
Aging (Albany NY)  2010;2(11):854-866.
We have investigated aging of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in female rhesus monkeys that differ in adaptive behavior. Plasma cortisol (F) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) concentrations under basal conditions and under acute psycho-emotional stress were evaluated in blood plasma of young (6-8 years) and old (20-27 years) female rhesus monkeys with various types of adaptive behavior (aggressive, depression-like, and average). We have found that the age-related changes in the HPA axis of monkeys with depression-like behavior were accompanied by the maximal absolute and relative hypercortisolemia under both basal conditions and stress. Moreover, young aggressive monkeys, in comparison with young monkeys of other behavior groups, demonstrated the highest plasma levels of DHEA-S and the lowest molar ratios between F and DHEA-S. Thus, age-related dysfunctions of the HPA axis are associated with adaptive behavior of animals.
PMCID: PMC3006027  PMID: 21098884
stress; types of adaptive behavior; aging; Macaca mulatta
23.  Perceived Stress at Work Is Associated with Lower Levels of DHEA-S 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72460.
It is known that long-term psychosocial stress may cause or contribute to different diseases and symptoms and accelerate aging. One of the consequences of prolonged psychosocial stress may be a negative effect on the levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphated metabolite dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S). The aim of this study is to investigate whether levels of DHEA and DHEA-S differ in individuals who report perceived stress at work compared to individuals who report no perceived stress at work.
Morning fasting DHEA-S and DHEA levels were measured in serum in a non-stressed group (n = 40) and a stressed group (n = 41). DHEA and DHEA-S levels were compared between the groups using ANCOVA, controlling for age.
The mean DHEA-S levels were 23% lower in the subjects who reported stress at work compared to the non-stressed group. Statistical analysis (ANCOVA) showed a significant difference in DHEA-S levels between the groups (p = 0.010). There was no difference in DHEA level between the groups.
This study indicates that stressed individual have markedly lower levels of DHEA-S. Given the important and beneficial functions of DHEA and DHEA-S, lower levels of DHEA-S may constitute one link between psychosocial stress, ill health and accelerated ageing.
PMCID: PMC3756071  PMID: 24015247
24.  Dysregulation of Neurosteroids in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
Journal of psychiatric research  2008;43(4):442-445.
Alterations in hormone concentrations, including adrenocorticotropin, corticotropin releasing hormone, and cortisol have been reported in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated metabolite, DHEA-S, have not been assessed in patients with OCD. We report 24-hour serum DHEA, DHEA-S, and cortisol concentrations in a young man with OCD and 15 healthy young men. Circadian patterns of DHEA and cortisol were markedly different in the subject with OCD than in the control subjects. DHEA and DHEA-S concentrations were substantially higher in the OCD subject than in the control subjects. In contrast, cortisol concentrations were similar in the OCD subject and the control subjects. Future clinical studies are needed to evaluate the significance of DHEA and DHEA-S in OCD.
PMCID: PMC2654381  PMID: 18514738
25.  Pregnancy weight gain is not associated with maternal or mixed umbilical cord estrogen and androgen concentrations 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2008;20(2):263-267.
The association of maternal weight gain with serum hormone concentrations was explored in 75 women who had healthy, singleton pregnancies. Estradiol, estriol, estrone, androstenedione, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate concentrations were measured both in maternal and mixed umbilical cord serum to assess hormone levels in both the maternal and fetal circulation at delivery. Our data show no association of maternal or cord steroid hormone concentrations with pregnancy weight gain. Increased exposure to steroid hormones, especially estrogens, during pregnancy has been hypothesized to play a role in subsequent breast cancer risk for both mother and female offspring. Our results are not consistent with an effect of pregnancy weight gain being mediated by this pathway as reflected by hormone concentrations at the end of pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2631613  PMID: 18830676
Pregnancy; breast cancer; estrogens; androgens

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