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1.  Neurosteroid Levels in Patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
Psychiatry Investigation  2015;12(4):538-544.
Changes in serum neurosteroid levels have been reported in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, but not in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We thus investigated such changes in patients with OCD.
We compared the serum levels of progesterone, pregnanolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S), cortisol and testosterone in 30 patients with OCD and 30 healthy controls.
When male and female patients were evaluated together, DHEA and cortisol levels were significantly higher in patients with OCD than the control group. When the genders were evaluated separately, DHEA and cortisol levels were higher in female patients than the female controls. The increase in DHEA levels in female patients is likely an effect of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In contrast, cortisol levels in male patients were higher than the control group, while testosterone levels were lower. The increased cortisol and decreased testosterone levels in male patients likely involves the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.
These findings suggest that neurosteroid levels in patients with OCD should be investigated together with the HPA and HPG axes in future studies.
PMCID: PMC4620312  PMID: 26508966
Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Neurosteroid; Gender
2.  Low Levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate in Younger Burnout Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140054.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-s) is an anabolic protective hormone of importance for maintenance of health. DHEA-s levels peak in young adults and decline thereafter with age. DHEA-s has previously been shown to be lower in individuals reporting prolonged stress. This study investigates DHEA-s levels in patients with clinical burnout, a disorder caused by long-term psychosocial stress.
122 patients (51% men) and 47 controls (51% men) in the age 25–54 years were included in the study. DHEA-s levels were compared between patients and controls in the whole sample and within each of the three 10-year-interval age groups.
In the youngest age group (25–34 years), DHEA-s levels were on average 25% lower in the patients (p = 0.006). The differences in DHEA-s levels between patients and controls were more pronounced among female than male participants (on average 32% and 13% lower, respectively). There were no differences in DHEA-s levels between patients and controls in the age group 35–44 years (p = 0.927) or 45–54 years (p = 0.897) or when analyzing all age groups together (p = 0.187).
The study indicates that levels of the health promoting “youth” hormone DHEA-s are low in younger burnout patients. The fact that younger adults have much higher DHEA-s levels and more pronounced inter-subject variability in DHEA-s levels than older individuals might explain why burnout status differentiates patients from controls only among the youngest patients included in this study.
PMCID: PMC4595129  PMID: 26441131
3.  Testosterone Increases Circulating Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Levels in the Male Rhesus Macaque 
The adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are two of the most abundant hormones in the human circulation. Furthermore, they are released in a circadian pattern and show a marked age-associated decline. Adult levels of DHEA and DHEAS are significantly higher in males than in females, but the reason for this sexual dimorphism is unclear. In the present study, we administered supplementary androgens [DHEA, testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT)] to aged male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). While this paradigm increased circulating DHEAS immediately after DHEA administration, an increase was also observed following either testosterone or DHT administration, resulting in hormonal profiles resembling levels observed in young males in terms of both amplitude and circadian pattern. This stimulatory effect was limited to DHEAS, as an increase in circulating cortisol was not observed. Taken together, these data demonstrate an influence of the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis on adrenal function in males, possibly by sensitizing the zona reticularis to the stimulating action of adrenocorticopic hormone. This represents a plausible mechanism to explain sex differences in circulating DHEA and DHEAS levels, and may have important implications in the development of hormone therapies designed for elderly men and women.
PMCID: PMC4070064  PMID: 25009533
adrenal gland; aging; androgen; dehydroepiandrosterone; non-human primate; testosterone
4.  Association of Adrenal Function and Disease Severity in Community-Acquired Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99518.
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.
PMCID: PMC4049821  PMID: 24910975
5.  Decreased levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate in severe critical illness: a sign of exhausted adrenal reserve? 
Critical Care  2002;6(5):434-438.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate (DHEAS) are pleiotropic adrenal hormones with immunostimulating and antiglucocorticoid effects. The present study was conducted to evaluate the time course of DHEAS levels in critically ill patients and to study their association with the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.
Materials and method
This was a prospective observational clinical and laboratory study, including 30 patients with septic shock, eight patients with multiple trauma, and 40 age- and sex-matched control patients. We took serial measurements of blood concentrations of DHEAS, cortisol, tumour necrosis factor-α and IL-6, and of adrenocorticotrophic hormone immunoreactivity over 14 days or until discharge/death.
On admission, DHEAS was extremely low in septic shock (1.2 ± 0.8 mol/l) in comparison with multiple trauma patients (2.4 ± 0.5 μmol/l; P < 0.05) and control patients (4.2 ± 1.8; P < 0.01). DHEAS had a significant (P < 0.01) negative correlation with age, IL-6 and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores in both patient groups. Only during the acute phase did DHEAS negatively correlate with dopamine. Nonsurvivors of septic shock (n = 11) had lower DHEAS levels (0.4 ± 0.3 μmol/l) than did survivors (1.7 ± 1.1 μmol/l; P < 0.01). The time course of DHEAS exhibited a persistent depletion during follow up, whereas cortisol levels were increased at all time points.
We identified extremely low DHEAS levels in septic shock and, to a lesser degree, in multiple trauma patients as compared with those of age- and sex-matched control patients. There appeared to be a dissociation between DHEAS (decreased) and cortisol (increased) levels, which changed only slightly over time. Nonsurvivors of sepsis and patients with relative adrenal insufficiency had the lowest DHEAS values, suggesting that DHEAS might be a prognostic marker and a sign of exhausted adrenal reserve in critical illness.
PMCID: PMC130144  PMID: 12398784
adrenal insufficiency; dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate; multiple trauma; hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis; sepsis
6.  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
7.  Novel dehydroepiandrosterone troche supplementation improves the serum androgen profile of women undergoing in vitro fertilization 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone in the circulation and has potent multifunctional activity. Epidemiological evidence suggests that levels of serum DHEA decrease with advancing age, and this has been associated with onset or progression of various age-related ailments, including cognitive decline and dementia, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Consequently, these findings have sparked intense research interest in DHEA supplementation as an “antiaging” therapy. Currently, DHEA is being used by 25% of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinicians as an adjuvant in assisted reproductive programs, yet the therapeutic benefit of DHEA is unclear. Here, we examined the use of novel DHEA-containing oral troches in patients undertaking IVF and investigated the impact of these troches on their serum androgen profile. This retrospective study determined the androgen profile of 31 IVF patients before (baseline) and after DHEA supplementation (with DHEA). Baseline serum measurements of testosterone (total and free), DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and androstenedione were made before and after supplementation. Each patient received DHEA troches containing 25 mg of micronized DHEA, and troches were administered sublingually twice daily for a period of no greater than 4 months. Adjuvant treatment with DHEA boosted the serum concentration of a number of androgen-related analytes, including total and free testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEAS, while serum SHBG remained unchanged. Supplementation also significantly increased the free-androgen index in IVF patients. Interestingly, the increase in serum analyte concentration following DHEA supplementation was found to be dependent on body mass index (BMI), but not individual age. Patients with the lowest BMI (<20.0 kg/m2) tended to have lower testosterone and DHEAS, but higher SHBG and androstenedione levels in comparison with other BMI groups postsupplementation. However, patients in the highest BMI group (>30.0 kg/m2) tended to have lower androgen responses following DHEA supplementation, but these were not statistically different from the corresponding baseline level. This method of DHEA administration results in a similar enhancement of testosterone, DHEAS, and androstenedione levels in comparison with other methods of administration. Furthermore, we showed that BMI significantly influences DHEA uptake and metabolism, and that BMI should be carefully considered during dosage calculation to ensure a significant and robust androgen-profile boost.
PMCID: PMC4607057  PMID: 26487801
androstenedione; testosterone; sex hormone-binding globulin; IVF; oral troches; drug delivery
8.  Effect of age and caloric restriction on circadian adrenal steroid rhythms in rhesus macaques 
Neurobiology of aging  2007;29(9):1412-1422.
Dietary caloric restriction (CR) slows aging, extends lifespan, and reduces the occurrence of age-related diseases in short-lived species. However, it is unclear whether CR can exert similar beneficial effects in long-lived species, like primates. Our objective was to determine if CR could attenuate purported age-related changes in the 24-h release of adrenal steroids. To this end, we examined 24-hour plasma profiles of cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in young and old, male and female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) subjected to either ad libitum (AL)-feeding or CR (70% of AL) for 2–4 years. Hormone profiles from young monkeys showed pronounced 24-h rhythms. Cortisol concentrations were higher in old males but not females, whereas DHEAS rhythms were dampened with age in both sexes. The cortisol rhythms of old CR males resembled that of young control males. However, CR failed to prevent age-related declines in DHEAS and further dampened DHEAS rhythms in both sexes. Apart from the partial attenuation of the age-related cortisol elevation in the old males, 24-h adrenal steroid rhythms did not benefit from late-onset CR.
PMCID: PMC2585543  PMID: 17420071
Adrenal steroids; Aging; Caloric restriction; Circadian; Cortisol; DHEAS; Endocrine rhythms; Primate
9.  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
10.  Increased serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in the first episode but not in subsequent episodes in male patients with schizophrenia 
Many studies have investigated the relationship between blood levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate ester (DHEA-S), cortisol, progesterone, and testosterone and the onset, prognosis, symptom severity, and treatment response of schizophrenia. In the present study, we assessed potential differences in blood levels of neurosteroids between drug-naïve first-episode patients with schizophrenia (FES), and drug-free patients with schizophrenia who were not in the first episode but were in a phase of acute exacerbation (DFP).
Materials and methods
The present study included 32 male FES, 28 male DFP, and 24 male healthy controls (HC). Groups were compared in terms of blood levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, testosterone, progesterone, and DHEA-S.
Blood levels of ACTH, cortisol, testosterone, and progesterone were similar among the groups. The mean value of serum DHEA-S was significantly different among the groups (P<0.001). The value of serum DHEA-S was higher in the FES group than in the DFP and HC groups (both P<0.001). The mean values of serum DHEA-S in the HC and DFP groups were found to be similar (P=0.33).
We suggest that higher values of DHEA-S in the FES group compared with both the DFP and HC groups indicate that this neurosteroid response is unique to first-episode schizophrenia patients. Further studies are needed to investigate the difference in blood levels of neurosteroids in different groups in terms of age of diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4011925  PMID: 24812513
neurosteroid; effect; psychosis
11.  Dehydroepiandrosterone Secretion in Healthy Older Men and Women: Effects of Testosterone and Growth Hormone Administration in Older Men 
Aging is associated with diminished gonadal steroid and GH/IGF-I axis activity; whether these changes contribute to the parallel declines of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) production is unknown, as are the effects of sex steroid and/or GH administration on DHEA and DHEAS production.
Our objective was to evaluate morning DHEAS concentrations and nocturnal DHEA secretory dynamics in healthy older men and women, before and after chronic administration of sex steroid(s) alone, GH alone, sex steroid(s) combined with GH, or placebo alone.
We compared nocturnal DHEA secretory dynamics (2000 h to 0800 h, sampling every 20 min, analyzed by multiparameter deconvolution and approximate entropy algorithms) in healthy older (65–88 yr) men (n = 68) and women (n = 36), both before and after 26 wk of administration of sex steroid(s) alone [testosterone (T) in men or estrogen/progesterone in women], GH alone, sex steroid(s) combined with GH, or placebo alone.
Morning concentrations of DHEAS were lower; nocturnal DHEA pulsatile production rate, burst frequency, and amplitude were higher; and half-life was shorter in women (P < 0.05). Nocturnal integrated DHEA concentrations, total production rate, and approximate entropy did not differ significantly by sex. Because of small treatment group sizes in women, only hormone intervention results in men are presented. In men, T and T plus GH administration significantly decreased nocturnal integrated DHEA but not morning DHEAS concentrations. GH alone exerted no significant effects on nocturnal DHEA secretion or morning DHEAS.
Spontaneous nocturnal DHEA secretion is sexually dimorphic in healthy older individuals, and T administration decreases nocturnal DHEA secretion in older men. The clinical significance of sex steroid modulation of DHEA secretion in older persons remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC4575787  PMID: 16926252
12.  Effects of 7-keto Dehydroepiandrosterone on Voluntary Ethanol Intake in Male Rats 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2010;45(4):349-354.
Administration of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a neurosteroid that can negatively modulate the GABAA receptor, has been shown to decrease voluntary intake of ethanol in rats. In vivo, DHEA can be metabolized to a variety of metabolites, including 7-keto DHEA, a metabolite without the prohormonal effects of DHEA. This study compared the effectiveness of 7-keto DHEA to DHEA for reducing ethanol intake in the same group of rats. The subjects, previously trained to drink ethanol using a saccharin-fading procedure, had access to ethanol for thirty minutes daily, and the amount consumed was recorded. Subjects were administered 10 and 56 mg/kg of DHEA or 7-keto DHEA intraperitoneally 15 minutes prior to drinking sessions. Subjects received each particular dose daily until one of two criteria was met; that is, either ethanol intake did not differ by more than 20% of the mean for three consecutive days, or for a maximum of eight days. Both 10 and 56 mg/kg of 7-keto DHEA significantly reduced the dose of ethanol consumed. While 10 mg/kg of 7-keto DHEA produced decreases similar to those found with DHEA, the 56-mg/kg dose of 7-keto DHEA was significantly more effective at decreasing the dose of ethanol consumed than the same dose of DHEA. These results show that 7-keto DHEA is comparable to, or possibly more effective than, DHEA at decreasing ethanol consumption in rats, and that 7-keto DHEA is a compound deserving further investigation as a possible clinical treatment for alcohol abuse without the prohormonal effects of DHEA.
PMCID: PMC3095668  PMID: 21051179
DHEA; 7-ketoDHEA; neurosteroid; GABAA receptor; ethanol intake; rats
13.  Administration of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Enhances Visual-Spatial Performance in Post-Menopausal Women 
Behavioral neuroscience  2011;125(5):742-752.
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
PMCID: PMC3715689  PMID: 21942436
Dehydroepiadrosterone (DHEA); post-menopausal women; cognition; visual-spatial tasks; androgens
14.  Renal clearance and daily excretion of cortisol and adrenal androgens in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(8):961-968.
Background: In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), patients demonstrate low levels of adrenal hormones.
Objective: To investigate whether increased renal clearance and daily excretion contribute to this phenomenon.
Methods: Thirty patients with RA, 32 with SLE, and 54 healthy subjects (HS) participated. Serum and urinary levels of cortisol, cortisone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP), androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulphate (DHEAS) were measured.
Results: Clearance of DHEAS and DHEA was lower in patients than in HS, and clearance of androstenedione was somewhat higher in patients than in HS, but daily excretion of this latter hormone was low. Clearance of cortisol, cortisone, and 17OHP was similar between the groups. The total molar amount per hour of excreted DHEA, DHEAS, and androstenedione was lower in patients than HS (but similar for cortisol). Serum DHEAS levels correlated with urinary DHEAS levels in HS and patients, whereby HS excreted 5–10 times more of this hormone than excreted by patients. Low serum levels of adrenal androgens and cortisol in patients as compared with HS were confirmed, and proteinuria was not associated with changes of measured renal parameters.
Conclusions: This study in patients with RA and SLE demonstrates that low serum levels of adrenal androgens and cortisol are not due to increased renal clearance and daily loss of these hormones. Decreased adrenal production or increased conversion or conjugation to downstream hormones are the most likely causes of inadequately low serum levels of adrenal hormones in RA and SLE.
PMCID: PMC1755103  PMID: 15249323
15.  Androgen Supplementation During Aging: Development of a Physiologically Appropriate Protocol 
Rejuvenation Research  2014;17(2):150-153.
Men show an age-related decline in the circulating levels of testosterone (T) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Consequently, there is interest in developing androgen supplementation paradigms for old men that replicate the hormone profiles of young adults. In the present study, we used old (21–26 years old) male rhesus monkeys as a model to examine the efficacy of an androgen supplementation paradigm that comprised oral T administration (12 mg/kg body weight, dissolved in sesame oil/chocolate) in the evening, and two oral DHEA administrations, 3 hr apart (0.04 mg/kg body weight, dissolved in sesame oil/chocolate) in the morning. After 5 days of repeated hormone supplementation, serial blood samples were remotely collected from each animal hourly across the 24-hr day, and assayed for cortisol, DHEAS, T, 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estrone (E1), and 17β-estradiol (E2). Following androgen supplementation, T levels were significantly elevated and this was associated with a more sustained nocturnal elevation of T's primary bioactive metabolites, DHT and E1 and E2. Plasma DHEAS levels were also significantly elevated after androgen supplementation; DHEAS levels rose in the early morning and gradually declined during the course of the day, closely mimicking the profiles observed in young adults (7–12 years old); in contrast, cortisol levels were unaltered by the supplementation. Together the data demonstrate a non-invasive androgen supplementation paradigm that restores youthful circulating androgen levels in old male primates. Because this paradigm preserves the natural circulating circadian hormone patterns, we predict that it will produce fewer adverse side effects, such as perturbed sleep or cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC3995436  PMID: 24134213
16.  Effect of Interleukin-1beta and Dehydroepiandrosterone on the Expression of Lumican and Fibromodulin in Fibroblast-Like Synovial Cells of the Human Temporomandibular Joint 
Several epidemiological studies have reported that temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are more prevalent in women than in men. It has recently been proposed that sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are involved with the pathogenesis of TMDs. Although studies have investigated the relationship between estrogen and testosterone and the restoration of TMDs, the relationship between DHEA and TMDs is unknown. The synovial tissue of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is made up of connective tissue with an extracellular matrix (ECM) composed of collagen and proteoglycan. One proteoglycan family, comprised of small leucine-rich repeat proteoglycans (SLRPs), was found to be involved in collagen fibril formation and interaction. In recent years, the participation of SLRPs such as lumican and fibromodulin in the internal derangement of TMJ has been suggested. Although these SLRPs may contribute to the restoration of the synovium, their effect is still unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of DHEA, a sex hormone, on the expression of lumican and fibromodulin in human temporomandibular specimens and in cultured human TMJ fibroblast-like synovial cells in the presence or absence of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). In the in vivo study, both normal and osteoarthritic (OA) human temporomandibular synovial tissues were immunohistochemically examined. In the in vitro study, five fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS) cell lines were established from human TMJ synovial tissue of patients with osteoarthritis. The subcultured cells were then incubated for 3, 6, 12 or 24 h with/without IL-1beta (1 ng/mL) in the presence or absence of DHEA (10 μM). The gene expression of lumican and fibromodulin was examined using the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and their protein expression was examined using immunofluorescent staining. We demonstrated that the expression of lumican differs from that of fibromodulin in synovial tissue and furthermore, that IL-1beta induced a significant increase in lumican mRNA and immunofluorescent staining in FLS compared to cells without IL-1beta. DHEA plus IL-1beta induced a significant increase in fibromodulin, but not in lumican mRNA, compared to DHEA alone, IL-1beta alone and in the absence of DHEA and IL-1beta. In immunofluorescent staining, weaker fibromodulin staining of FLS cells was observed in cells cultured in the absence of both DHEA and IL-1beta compared to fibromodulin staining of cells cultured with DHEA alone, with DHEA plus IL-1beta, or with IL-1beta alone. These results indicate that DHEA may have a protective effect on synovial tissue in TMJ by enhancing fibromodulin formation after IL-1beta induced inflammation. DHEA enhancement of fibromodulin expression may also exert a protective effect against the hyperplasia of fibrous tissue that TGF-beta1 induces. In addition lumican and fibromodulin are differentially expressed under different cell stimulation conditions and lumican and fibromodulin may promote regeneration of the TMJ after degeneration and deformation induced by IL-1beta.
PMCID: PMC4378210  PMID: 25820556
Temporomandibular joint; dehydroepiandrosterone; lumican; fibromodulin; small leucine rich repeat proteoglycan
17.  In Vivo and In Vitro Evidences of Dehydroepiandrosterone Protective Role on the Cardiovascular System 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate ester, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S) have been considered as putative anti-aging hormones for many years. Indeed, while DHEAS is the most abundant circulating hormone, its concentration is markedly decreased upon aging and early epidemiologic trials have revealed a strong inverse correlation between the hormone concentrations and the occurrence of several dysfunctions frequently encountered in the elderly. Naturally, hormonal supplementation has been rapidly suggested to prevent DHEA (S) deficiency and therefore, age-related development of these pathologies, using the same strategy as estrogen replacement therapy proposed in postmenopausal women.
Evidence Acquisition:
All references were searched using PubMed and the following strategy: our initial selection included all articles in English and we sorted them with the following keywords: “DHEA or DHEA-S” and “heart or vascular or endothelium or cardiovascular disease”. The search was limited to neither the publication date nor specific journals. The final selection was made according to the relevance of the article content with the aims of the review. According to these criteria, fewer than 10% of the articles retrieved at the first step were discarded.
In this short review, we have focused on the cardiovascular action of DHEA. We started by analyzing evidences in favor of a strong inverse association between DHEA (S) levels and the cardiovascular risk as demonstrated in multiple observational epidemiologic studies for several decades. Then we discussed the different trials aimed at supplementing DHEA (S), both in animals and human, for preventing cardiovascular diseases and we analyzed the possible reasons for the discrepancy observed among the results of some studies. Finally, we presented putative molecular mechanisms of action for DHEA (S), demonstrated in vitro in different models of vascular and cardiac cells, highlighting the complexity of the involved signaling pathways.
The identification of the beneficial cardiovascular effects of DHEA (S) and a better understanding of the involved mechanisms should be helpful to develop new strategies or pharmacologic approaches for many lethal diseases in Western countries.
PMCID: PMC4389253  PMID: 25926854
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Endothelium; Myocytes, Cardiac; Cardiovascular System; Disease; Steroids
18.  Cortisol response to low dose versus standard dose (back-to-back) adrenocorticotrophic stimulation tests in children and young adults with thalassemia major 
Thalassemia major patients with repeated blood transfusion have high prevalence of endocrinopathies due to iron overload.
Materials and Methods:
We examined the adrenocortical function in 23 thalassemic patients (10 children and 13 young adults) aged 8-26 years. Serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) concentrations were determined in each subject before blood transfusion both in basal condition and after low dose (LD) (1 μg), followed by standard dose (SD) (250 μg, respectively) with synthetic corticotrophin beta 1-24 ACTH (Synacthen, Ciba). Normal controls were a group of 13 age- and sex-matched normal subjects.
Using a peak total cortisol cutoff level of 550 nmol/L and increments of 200 μg above basal cortisol, adrenal insufficiency (AI) was demonstrated in 8 patients (34.7%) after the LD ACTH and in 2 patients (8.7%) after SD cosyntropin (ACTH) test, but none of the controls. Using a peak total cortisol cutoff level of 420 nmol/L and increments of 200 μg above basal cortisol, AI was demonstrated in 5 patients (21.7%) after the LD ACTH and in 2 patients after SD ACTH test (8.7%), but none of controls. All patients with biochemical AI were asymptomatic with normal serum sodium and potassium concentrations and had no history suggestive of adrenal pathology. The peak cortisol concentrations in thalassemic patients with impaired adrenal function both after 1 μg and 250 μg cosyntropin (294 ± 51 nmol/L and 307 ± 58.6) were significantly lower than those with patients with normal (454 ± 79.7 nmol/L and 546.1 ± 92.2 nmol/L, respectively) and controls (460.2 ± 133.4 nmol/L and 554.3 ± 165.8 nmol/L, respectively). Adolescents and young adults, but not children with thalassaemia, had significantly lower peak cortisol concentration after SD ACTH versus controls. Peak cortisol response to LD ACTH was correlated significantly with peak cortisol response to SD in all patients (r = 0.83, P < 0.0001). In adolescents and young adults with thalassemia, DHEA-S levels before and after LD ACTH stimulation were significantly lower and the cortisol/DHEA-S ratios were significantly higher than the controls.
The use of LD ACTH test diagnoses more adrenal abnormalities versus SD ACTH in thalassemic patients. The relatively high prevalence of AI in thalassemic adolescents and young adults necessitates that these patients have to be investigated for AI before major surgery and those with impaired cortisol secretion should receive stress doses of corticosteroids during the stressful event.
PMCID: PMC3872683  PMID: 24381882
Cortisol; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; low dose adrenocorticotropic hormone test; standard dose adrenocorticotropic hormone test; thalassemia
19.  Effects of acute and chronic administration of neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate on neuronal excitability in mice 
Neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) has been associated with important brain functions, including neuronal survival, memory, and behavior, showing therapeutic potential in various neuropsychiatric and cognitive disorders. However, the antagonistic effects of DHEAS on γ-amino-butyric acidA receptors and its facilitatory action on glutamatergic neurotransmission might lead to enhanced brain excitability and seizures and thus limit DHEAS therapeutic applications. The aim of this study was to investigate possible age and sex differences in the neuronal excitability of the mice following acute and chronic DHEAS administration.
DHEAS was administered intraperitoneally in male and female adult and old mice either acutely or repeatedly once daily for 4 weeks in a 10 mg/kg dose. To investigate the potential proconvulsant properties of DHEAS, we studied the effects of acute and chronic DHEAS treatment on picrotoxin-, pentylentetrazole-, and N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced seizures in mice. The effects of acute and chronic DHEAS administration on the locomotor activity, motor coordination, and body weight of the mice were also studied. We also investigated the effects of DHEAS treatment on [3H]flunitrazepam binding to the mouse brain membranes.
DHEAS did not modify the locomotor activity, motor coordination, body weight, and brain [3H]flunitrazepam binding of male and female mice. The results failed to demonstrate significant effects of single- and long-term DHEAS treatment on the convulsive susceptibility in both adult and aged mice of both sexes. However, small but significant changes regarding sex differences in the susceptibility to seizures were observed following DHEAS administration to mice.
Although our findings suggest that DHEAS treatment might be safe for various potential therapeutic applications in adult as well as in old age, they also support subtle interaction of DHEAS with male and female hormonal status, which may underline observed sex differences in the relationship between DHEAS and various health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4807895  PMID: 27051273
dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; mice; age and sex differences; seizure threshold; motor activity; [3H]flunitrazepam binding
20.  Capacity to Delay Reward Differentiates Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder 
Biological psychiatry  2013;75(8):653-659.
Although the relationship between obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) has long been debated, clinical samples of OCD (without OCPD) and OCPD (without OCD) have never been systematically compared. We studied whether individuals with OCD, OCPD, or both conditions differ on symptomatology, functioning, and a measure of self-control: the capacity to delay reward.
25 OCD, 25 OCPD, 25 comorbid OCD+OCPD, and 25 healthy controls (HC) completed clinical assessments and a validated intertemporal choice task that measures capacity to forego small immediate rewards for larger delayed rewards.
OCD and OCPD subjects both showed impairment in psychosocial functioning and quality of life, as well as compulsive behavior, but only subjects with OCD reported obsessions. Individuals with OCPD, with or without comorbid OCD, discounted the value of delayed monetary rewards significantly less than OCD and HC. This excessive capacity to delay reward discriminates OCPD from OCD, and is associated with perfectionism and rigidity.
OCD and OCPD are both impairing disorders marked by compulsive behaviors, but they can be differentiated by the presence of obsessions in OCD and by excessive capacity to delay reward in OCPD. That individuals with OCPD show less temporal discounting (suggestive of excessive self-control) whereas prior studies have shown that individuals with substance use disorders show greater discounting (suggestive of impulsivity) supports the premise that this component of self-control lies on a continuum in which both extremes (impulsivity and overcontrol) contribute to psychopathology.
PMCID: PMC3969772  PMID: 24199665
obsessive compulsive disorder; obsessive compulsive personality disorder; delay discounting; temporal discounting; self-control; impulsivity
21.  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
22.  DHEA administration and exercise training improves insulin resistance in obese rats 
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is precursor of sex steroid hormone. We demonstrated that acute DHEA injection to type 1 diabetes model rats induced improvement of hyperglycemia. However, the effect of the combination of DHEA administration and exercise training on insulin resistance is still unclear. This study was undertaken to determine whether 6-weeks of DHEA administration and/or exercise training improve insulin resistance in obese male rats.
After 14 weeks of a high-sucrose diet, obese male Wistar rats were assigned randomly to one of four groups: control, DHEA administration, exercise training, and a combination of DHEA administration and exercise training (n = 10 each group).
After 6-weeks of DHEA administration and/or exercise training, rats in the combination group weighed significantly less and had lower serum insulin levels than rats in the other groups. Moreover, the rats treated with DHEA alone or DHEA and exercise had significantly lower fasting glucose levels (combination, 84 ± 6.5 mg/dL; DHEA, 102 ± 9.5 mg/dL; control, 148 ± 10.5 mg/dL). In addition, insulin sensitivity check index showed significant improvements in the combination group (combination, 0.347 ± 0.11; exercise, 0.337 ± 0.16%; DHEA, 0.331 ± 0.14; control, 0.308 ± 0.12). Muscular DHEA and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) concentrations were significantly higher in the combination group, and closely correlated with the quantitative insulin-sensitivity check index (DHEA: r = 0.71, p < 0.01; DHT: r = 0.69, p < 0.01).
These results showed that a combination of DHEA administration and exercise training effectively improved fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, and insulin sensitivity, which may reflect increased muscular DHEA and DHT concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3433349  PMID: 22647230
Exercise training; Insulin sensitivity; Sex steroid hormone; Obesity
23.  Dynamics of Adrenal Steroids Are Related to Variations in Th1 and Treg Populations during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in HIV Positive Persons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33061.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent cause of illness and death from an infectious agent, and its interaction with HIV has devastating effects. We determined plasma levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its circulating form DHEA-suphate (DHEA-s) and cortisol in different stages of M. tuberculosis infection, and explored their role on the Th1 and Treg populations during different scenarios of HIV-TB coinfection, including the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), a condition related to antiretroviral treatment. DHEA levels were diminished in HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients compared to healthy donors (HD), HIV+ individuals and HIV+ individuals with latent TB (HIV-LTB), whereas dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-s) levels were markedly diminished in HIV-TB IRIS individuals. HIV-TB and IRIS patients presented a cortisol/DHEA ratio significantly higher than HIV+, HIV-LTB and HD individuals. A positive correlation was observed between DHEA-s and CD4 count among HIV-TB individuals. Conversely, cortisol plasma level inversely correlated with CD4 count within HIV-TB individuals. M. tuberculosis-specific Th1 lymphocyte count was increased after culturing PBMC from HIV-TB individuals in presence of DHEA. We observed an inverse correlation between DHEA-s plasma level and Treg frequency in co-infected individuals, and CD4+FoxP3+ Treg frequency was increased in HIV-TB and IRIS patients compared to other groups. Strikingly, we observed a prominent CD4+CD25-FoxP3+ population across HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients, which frequency correlated with DHEA plasma level. Finally, DHEA treatment negatively regulated FoxP3 expression without altering Treg frequency in co-infected patients. These data suggest an enhancing role for DHEA in the immune response against M. tuberculosis during HIV-TB coinfection and IRIS.
PMCID: PMC3303789  PMID: 22431997
24.  Role of androgens in dhea-induced rack1 expression and cytokine modulation in monocytes 
Over the past fifteen years, we have demonstrated that cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) have opposite effects on the regulation of protein kinase C (PKC) activity in the context of the immune system. The anti-glucocorticoid effect of DHEA is also related to the regulation of splicing of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), promoting the expression of GRβ isoform, which acts as a negative dominant form on GRα activity. Moreover, it is very well known that DHEA can be metabolized to androgens like testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and its metabolites 3α-diol and 3β-diol, which exert their function through the binding of the androgen receptor (AR). Based on this knowledge, and on early observation that castrated animals show results similar to those observed in old animals, the purpose of this study is to investigate the role of androgens and the androgen receptor (AR) in DHEA-induced expression of the PKC signaling molecule RACK1 (Receptor for Activated C Kinase 1) and cytokine production in monocytes.
Here we demonstrated the ability of the anti-androgen molecule, flutamide, to counteract the stimulatory effects of DHEA on RACK1 and GRβ expression, and cytokine production. In both THP-1 cells and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), flutamide blocked the effects of DHEA, suggesting a role of the AR in these effects. As DHEA is not considered a direct AR agonist, we investigated the metabolism of DHEA in THP-1 cells. We evaluated the ability of testosterone, DHT, and androstenedione to induce RACK1 expression and cytokine production. In analogy to DHEA, an increase in RACK1 expression and in LPS-induced IL–8 and TNF–α production was observed after treatment with these selected androgens. Finally, the silencing of AR with siRNA completely prevented DHEA-induced RACK1 mRNA expression, supporting the idea that AR is involved in DHEA effects.
We demonstrated that the conversion of DHEA to active androgens, which act via AR, is a key mechanism in the effect of DHEA on RACK1 expression and monocyte activation. This data supports the existence of a complex hormonal balance in the control of immune modulation, which can be further studied in the context of immunosenescence and endocrinosenescence.
PMCID: PMC4884617  PMID: 27239218
Immunosenescence; PKC; Cytokines; Androgens; Signal transduction; Monocytes
25.  The Effects of Galantamine Hydrobromide Treatment on Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate and Cortisol Levels in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 
Psychiatry Investigation  2009;6(3):204-210.
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.
PMCID: PMC2796068  PMID: 20046396
Chronic fatigue syndrome; Cortisol; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Galantamine hydrobromide

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