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.
Androstenediol; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
We propose that the adrenal gland of an older higher primate female animal model will respond to a human chorionic gonadotropic (hCG) hormone challenge by secreting additional dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Such a response in surgically and chemically-castrated animals will provide proof-of-concept and a validated animal model for future studies to explore the rise of DHEAS during the menopausal transition of women.
Twenty four 18–26 y/o female cynomolgus monkeys were screened for ovarian function then either ovariectomized (n=4) or treated with a gonadotropic releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) (n=20) to block ovarian steroid production. Following a recovery period from surgery or down-regulation, a single dose challenge (1,000 IU; IM) of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) was then administered in order to determine if LH/CG could accelerate circulating DHEAS production. Serum DHEAS, bioactive LH and urinary metabolites of ovarian sex steroids were monitored before, during and following these treatments.
Circulating LH bioactivity and immunoreactive DHEAS concentrations were suppressed in all animals 14 days post administration of GnRHa. Urinary metabolites of estradiol and progesterone remained low following surgery or the flare reaction to GnRHa. Circulating DHEAS levels were increased following hCG administration and the increase in individual animals was proportional to the pre-treatment DHEAS baseline. Circulating DHEAS concentrations were positively correlated to endogenous LH bioactive concentrations prior to, and were increased by hCG challenge while no concomitant change was observed in ovarian steroid hormone excretion.
These data demonstrate a positive adrenal androgen response to LH/CG in older female higher primates and suggests a mechanism for the rise in adrenal androgen production during the menopausal transition in women. These results also illustrate that the nonhuman primate animal model can be effectively used to investigate this phenomenon.
DHEAS; menopause; adrenal androgens; LH/hCG
It is now recognized that mean circulating DHEAS concentrations in most midlife women exhibit a positive inflection starting in the early perimenopause, continuing through the early post menopause and returning to early perimenopausal levels by late post menopause. This rise in mean DHEAS is accompanied by concomitant rises in testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosteone (DHEA), androstenedione (Adione), and an equal rise androstenediol (Adiol). These observations suggest that there is a specific relationship between the circulating levels of steroids emanating from the adrenal, declining ovarian function and stages of the menopausal transition (MT). This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the menopausal stage-specific change in circulating DHEAS is associated with concomitant changes in the circulating pattern of adrenal steroids and that some of these adrenal androgens could influence the circulating estrogen/androgen balance.
Stored annual serum samples (n=120) were first selected to represent four longitudinal DS profiles of individual women in order to assess and compare changes in the adrenal contribution to circulating steroids.
Changes in mean circulating DHEAS levels in midlife women during the MT is associated with changes in mean circulating Testosterone (T), androstendione (Adione), and androstenediol (Adiol). Mean Adione and T concentrations changed the least while mean DHEAS and Adiol changed the most.
Changes in circulating steroid hormone emanating from the adrenal during the menopausal transition may be more important than the decline of ovarian function in terms of altering the estrogen/androgen balance.
DHEAS; androstenediol; estrogen; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
Circulating adrenal steroids rise during the menopausal transition (MT) in most mid-aged women and may contribute to differences in between-woman symptoms as well as ultimate health outcomes. However, the mechanism(s) for this shift in adrenal steroid production in mid-aged women is not known.
To determine if hormone replacement therapy (HT) for one year can modulate adrenal androgen production.
Younger (9.8 +/− 0.4 y/o, n=20) and older (22.7+/−0.4 y/o, n=37) female laboratory macaques were ovariectomized (OVX), and then each group was treated with different regimens of HT for up to one year. Changes in adrenal histology and circulating adrenal androgens were monitored following estradiol treatment alone (E) or estrogen plus progesterone (E+P), and these changes were compare to the same measures in similar aged animals given vehicle (V).
Zona reticularis (ZR) area and serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) were higher in younger compared to older V-treated animals (P< 0.02). Both E and E+P treatments decreased circulating DHEAS in the younger group (P<0.05). While E also decreased DHEAS in the older group, this was not statistically significant. In contrast, E+P treatment in the older group resulted in a rise in DHEAS over V, which was significantly higher than the results of E alone (p< 0.01). Circulating concentrations of DHEA exhibited similar trends but these changes did not reach statistical significance.
These data demonstrate that intervention with ovarian steroids can modulate adrenal androgen production in female higher primates and that both animal age and type of HT regimen determines the adrenal response.
Adrenal; Steroids; Hormone Therapy; Replacement
The aim of the study reported here was to determine the effect of surgical menopause by bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) on circulating levels of cytokines and chemokines related to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
Patients and methods
A total of 110 women were recruited for this study from the outpatient clinic of our facility. We divided the women into three groups: 1) women with a regular menstrual cycle, 2) women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO, and 3) women in whom 5 years or more had passed since their BSO. Concentrations of nine cytokines and chemokines in serum were measured.
The serum monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) level in women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO was significantly higher than in women with a regular menstrual cycle (P<0.05). There were significant differences in serum interleukin (IL)-7 among the three groups (P=0.035). MCP-1 showed a significant positive correlation (r=0.320, P=0.008) with follicle-stimulating hormone in women with a regular menstrual cycle and in women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO.
A hypoestrogenic state due to BSO induced changes in MCP-1 and IL-7 levels. MCP-1 level showed a significant increase in the early period after BSO, while IL-7 level showed a significant decrease in the late period after BSO.
follicle-stimulating hormone; cytokines; chemokines; hypoestrogenism; surgical menopause
To determine the impact of ovary-secreted products on adrenocortical function in women with PCOS by studying the adrenocortical response to acute adrenocorticotropic-stimulating hormone (ACTH) stimulation before and after bilateral oophorectomy.
Tertiary care medical center
Fourteen women with PCOS scheduled for bilateral oophorectomy for benign indications, on transdermal estradiol (E2) postoperatively.
Physical exam, blood sampling before and after oophorectomy, measurement of hormone levels. Basal (Steroid0), maximum stimulated (Steroid60), and net increment (ΔSteroid) levels of androstenedione (A4), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and cortisol (F) before and after ACTH-1–24 stimulation were assessed.
Main Outcome Measures
Pre- and post-operative basal and ACTH(1–24)-stimulated hormonal levels.
Total testosterone, free testosterone, and estrone levels decreased, and FSH levels increased significantly following oophorectomy. No significant differences in E2, DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) or sex hormone binding globulin levels were detected. Basal and ACTH-stimulated A4 levels decreased significantly following oophorectomy, and ΔA4 was significantly increased. No significant differences in DHEA0, DHEA60, or F0 levels were detected; F60 and ΔF levels tended to increase following oophorectomy, but the differencesdid not reach significance.
Ovarian factors do not appear to contribute significantly to the adrenocortical dysfunction of PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome; adrenal androgen; oophorectomy
The concept that adrenal androgen production gradually declines with age has changed following the analysis of the longitudinal data collected in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). It is now recognized that four adrenal androgens (3-beta hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one or dehydroepiandrosterone--DHEA, its sulfate, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate--DHEAS; androst-4-ene, 3,17-dione or androstenedione; and androst-5-ene-3-beta, 17-beta diol, also known as androstenediol or Adiol) rise during the menopausal transition in most women. Ethnic and individual differences in sex steroids are more apparent in circulating adrenal steroids than in either estradiol or cyclic ovarian steroid hormone profiles, particularly during the early and late perimenopause. Thus, adrenal steroid production may play a larger role in the occurrence of symptoms and the potential for healthier aging than previously recognized.
menopausal transition; androgens; adrenal
The influence of sex hormones on mood during menopause has been the subject of ongoing investigation. Because dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels have been associated with several indicators of health outcomes associated with healthy aging, this PENN Ovarian Aging study (POAS) investigation was undertaken to determine the relationship between DHEA-S levels and both depressive symptoms and major depression during the transition through menopause. The original report revealed an unexpected positive correlation between DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) levels and depressive symptoms in the cohort at baseline. To determine whether the positive association of DHEA-S levels and depression persists in a longitudinal analysis, the cohort was studied over 11 years.
Longitudinal cohort study with 11 assessments during an 11 year interval in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Participants: A randomly identified, population-based sample of 436 African American and Caucasian premenopausal women aged 35 to 47 years at enrollment. Outcome Measures: Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score and standardized diagnosis of major depression.
In a multivariable model, DHEA-S levels were positively associated with depressive symptoms, when adjusted for age, menopausal stage, race, smoking status and body mass index. There was no relationship between DHEA-S levels and a diagnosis of major depression.
DHEA-S levels were positively associated with depressive symptoms and not with major depression during the menopausal transition.
menopausal transition; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; depressive symptoms; major depression; longitudinal cohort
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.
In this study we prospectively evaluated the relationships between plasma concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and subsequent myocardial infarction in women.
Using case-control sampling, we selected participants from the Nurses’ Health Study cohort. Blood samples were collected from 1989 to 1990 when the women were 43 to 69 years old. During follow-up through June 1998, 239 women were diagnosed with myocardial infarction (fatal and nonfatal). We matched cases 1:2 by age, cigarette smoking status, fasting status, and month of blood collection and used conditional logistic regression to adjust for potential confounders, including anthropometric factors and dietary intake.
Baseline median (10th, 90th percentiles) concentrations of DHEA were 17.1 (4.3, 46.7) nmol/L among women who subsequently developed myocardial infarction and 16.6 (6.1, 37.9) among controls. The risk of myocardial infarction increased with plasma concentrations of DHEA and its sulfate. Women in the highest DHEA quartile had a rate ratio (RR) of 1.27 (95% CI 0.92–1.74, P for trend = 0.008) for myocardial infarction compared with those in the lowest quartile, after adjusting for covariates. The results did not vary significantly by menopausal status, postmenopausal estrogen therapy, fasting status, or age at time of blood collection. Similar relationships between concentrations of DHEA-S and risk were observed, with an RR of 1.58 (95% CI 1.13–2.21; P for trend = 0.06) for myocardial infarction in the highest vs lowest quartile.
We observed a modest positive relationship between plasma concentrations of DHEA and its sulfate and the risk of subsequent myocardial infarction among predominantly postmenopausal women.
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.
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.
Dehydroepiandrosterone; Endothelium; Myocytes, Cardiac; Cardiovascular System; Disease; Steroids
Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal underactivity has been reported in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This phenomenon has implications with regard to the pathogenesis and treatment of the disease. The present study was designed to evaluate the secretion of the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and its relation to clinical variables in RA, spondyloarthropathy (Spa), and undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis (UIA). Eighty-seven patients (38 with RA, 29 with Spa, and 20 with UIA) were studied, of whom 54 were women. Only 12 patients (14%) had taken glucocorticoids previously. Age-matched, healthy women (134) and men (149) served as controls. Fasting blood samples were taken for determination of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), serum DHEAS and insulin, and plasma glucose. Insulin resistance was estimated by the homeostasis-model assessment (HOMAIR). DHEAS concentrations were significantly decreased in both women and men with inflammatory arthritis (IA) (P < 0.001). In 24 patients (28%), DHEAS levels were below the lower extreme ranges found for controls. Multiple intergroup comparisons revealed similarly decreased concentrations in each disease subset in both women and men. After the ESR, previous glucocorticoid usage, current treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, duration of disease and HOMAIR were controlled for, the differences in DHEAS levels between patients and controls were markedly attenuated in women (P = 0.050) and were no longer present in men (P = 0.133). We concluded that low DHEAS concentrations are commonly encountered in IA and, in women, this may not be fully explainable by disease-related parameters. The role of hypoadrenalism in the pathophysiology of IA deserves further elucidation. DHEA replacement may be indicated in many patients with IA, even in those not taking glucocorticoids.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; inflammatory arthritis
Lavage of the ductal systems of the breast provides fluid (DLF) containing hormones and products of hormone actions that may represent more accurately the composition of the breast than samples collected from blood or urine. The present study was undertaken to assess the presence of potential cancer biomarkers, their variation among individuals at high risk for breast cancer, and differences associated with menopause and tamoxifen treatment.
Seventy seven tamoxifen-eligible subjects with a 5-year breast cancer risk estimate (Gail > 1.6%)(N = 53) or recently diagnosed breast cancer (N = 24) were offered tamoxifen therapy; those not accepting tamoxifen were under observation only. After six months, all subjects underwent ductal lavage (DL) in an unaffected breast. Estradiol (E2), estrone sulfate, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, progesterone, cathepsin D and epidermal growth factor (EGF) were measured in DLF by immunoassays. Data were expressed as the mass of analyte per mg of protein in DLF and normalized by natural log transformation.
With the exception of DHEA, none of the analytes measured were significantly lower in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women. The mean loge concentration difference in estradiol was 10.9%. Tamoxifen treatment for 6 months did not result in a significantly greater concentration of E2 or in any of the other analytes in DLF of pre- or postmenopausal women. The between-duct variance of the concentration of free steroids within the same breast averaged 51% less than that between subjects, and was similar to that of non-diffusible proteins.
The maintenance of estradiol concentrations in the breast after menopause demonstrates the importance of local biosynthesis. The fact that DLF E2 does not reflect the high serum concentrations of E2 during tamoxifen treatment indicates that breast concentrations of estradiol may be under feedback control. Unlike studies of low risk populations, progesterone concentrations were not significantly less in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women. The similarity in variance of free steroids and protein analytes between ducts of a breast indicates little transfer of steroids between lobules.
Breast; Cancer; Risk; Lavage; Hormones
We evaluated the comparative effects of aminoglutethimide (AG) on androgen and estrogen levels estrone ([E1], estradiol [E2], plasma dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate [DHEA-S], testosterone [T], dihydrotestosterone [DHT], delta 4-androstenedione [delta 4-A]), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin in postmenopausal patients with breast cancer randomly allocated to either AG treatment or bilateral surgical adrenalectomy as a control group. In response to either treatment, the plasma levels of E1 fell 62-75% (P less than 0.001) and urine E1 85.7-88.7% (P less than 0.001) in all study days over a 12-wk period. Similarly, the concentrations of E2 in plasma and urine fell 40-72% without statistically significant differences between the two treatment modalities. The relatively weak androgen, DHEA-S, was reduced by 92% (877.3 +/- 184.6 to 71.8 +/- 14.5 ng/ml) at 12 wk in women treated with AG, but suppressed nearly 99% (1,151 +/- 262 to 5.8 +/- 3.3 ng/ml) in adrenalectomized women. At all time points after treatment, the DHEA-S levels were significantly higher in patients receiving AG. Plasma concentrations of the potent androgens, T and DHT, were also relatively preserved during AG treatment. T levels were never significantly reduced by AG, and DHT concentrations were decreased only at the 4th wk to a maximum of 20%. delta 4-A levels fell 56% in response to this drug only on the 12th wk of therapy (basal, 0.79 +/- 0.09 ng/ml; 12 wk, 0.35 +/- 0.07 ng/ml). In marked contrast, all androgens fell significantly at each time period in response to surgical adrenalectomy, with an 81% maximum suppression of T, 73% of DHT, and 97% of delta 4-A. In response to estrogen suppression, plasma levels of FSH, LH, and prolactin did not change significantly throughout the treatment period in either therapy group. To examine possible contributions of the postmenopausal ovary to hormone levels during therapy, data from surgically castrate and spontaneously menopausal women were evaluated separately. No significant differences between the two groups were observed for E1, E2, T, DHT, DHEA-S, delta 4-A, LH, FSH, and prolactin. We conclude that equivalent and highly significant estrogen suppression occurs with either AG or surgical adrenalectomy although androgen secretion is preserved during AG treatment but not after surgical adrenalectomy. The combined effects of estrogen deprivation associated with androgen preservation might be significant in the therapeutic action of AG in hormone-responsive neoplasms.
Observations over the past decade using longitudinal data reveal a gender-specific shift in adrenal steroid production. This shift is represented by an increase in the circulating concentrations of delta 5 steroids in 85% of all women and is initiated only after the menopausal transition has begun. While the associated rise in the major adrenal androgen, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), is modest, the parallel rises in dehydroepiandrosteone (DHEA) and androstenediol (Adiol) are much more robust. These increases in circulating steroid concentrations are qualitatively similar on average between ethnicities but quantitatively different between individual women. Both circulating testosterone (T) and androstenedione (Adione) also rise concomitantly but modestly by comparison. This phenomenon presents a new and provocative aspect to the endocrine foundations of the menopausal transition and may provide important clues to understanding the fundamentals of mid-aged women's healthy aging, particularly an explanation for the wide diversity in phenotypes observed during the MT as well as their different responses to hormone replacement therapies. Experimental studies using the nonhuman primate animal model show an acute adrenal response to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) challenge as well as the presence of luteinizing hormone receptors (LHR) in their adrenal cortices. These experimental results support the concept that LHRs are recruited to the adrenal cortices of mid-aged women that subsequently function to respond to increasing circulating LH to shunt pregnenolone metabolites towards the delta 5 pathway. Future investigations are required to determine the relationship of these changes in adrenal function to symptoms and health outcomes of mid-aged women.
Adrenal glands; Menopause; Gonadal steroid hormones
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.
The biological basis of variability in histological progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is unknown. Dehydroepiandrosterone(DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone and has been shown to influence sensitivity to oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, and expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and procollagen messenger RNA. Our aim was to determine whether more histologically advanced NAFLD is associated with low circulating levels of DHEA. Serum samples were obtained prospectively at the time of liver biopsy in 439 patients with NAFLD (78 in an initial and 361 in validation cohorts) and in controls with cholestatic liver disease (n = 44). NAFLD was characterized as mild [simple steatosis or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with fibrosis stage 0–2] or advanced (NASH with fibrosis stage 3–4). Serum levels of sulfated DHEA (DHEA-S) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Patients with advanced NAFLD had lower plasma levels of DHEA-S than patients with mild NAFLD in both the initial (0.25 ± 0.07 versus 1.1 ± 0.09 µg/mL, P < 0.001) and validation cohorts (0.47 ± 0.06 versus 0.99 ± 0.04 µg/mL, P < 0.001). A “dose effect” of decreasing DHEA-S and incremental fibrosis stage was observed with a mean DHEA-S of 1.03 ± 0.05, 0.96 ± 0.07, 0.83 ± 0.11, 0.66 ± 0.11, and 0.35 ± 0.06 µg/mL for fibrosis stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. All patients in both cohorts in the advanced NAFLD group had low DHEA-S levels, with the majority in the hypoadrenal range. The association between DHEA-S and severity of NAFLD persisted after adjusting for age. A relationship between disease/fibrosis severity and DHEA-S levels was not seen in patients with cholestatic liver diseases.
More advanced NAFLD, as indicated by the presence of NASH with advanced fibrosis stage, is strongly associated with low circulating DHEA-S. These data provide novel evidence for relative DHEA-S deficiency in patients with histologically advanced NASH.
Changes in androgen levels and associations with chronic disease, physical and neuropsychological function and disability in women over the middle to later years of life are not well understood and have not been extensively studied in African-American women.
The present cross-sectional analysis reports such levels and associations in community dwelling, African American women aged 49 – 65 years from St. Louis, Missouri.
A home-based physical examination and a health status questionnaire were administered to randomly sampled women. Body composition (DEXA), lower limb and hand-grip muscle strength, physical and neuropsychological function and disability levels were assessed. Blood was drawn and assayed for total testosterone (T), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS), oestradiol (E2), adiponectin, leptin, triglycerides, glucose, C-reactive protein (CRP) and cytokine receptors (sIL2r, sIL6r, sTNFr1 & sTNFr2). Multiple linear regression modelling was used to identify the best predictors of testosterone, DHEAS and Free Androgen Index (T/SHBG).
Seventy-four percent of women were menopausal and a quarter of these were taking oestrogen therapy. DHEAS and E2 declined between the ages of 49 and 65 years, whereas total T, SHBG and FAI remained stable. Total T and DHEAS levels were strongly correlated. In this population sample there were no independent associations of either total T or FAI with indicators of functional limitations, disability or clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Unlike total T and FAI, lower DHEAS levels was independently associated with both higher IADL scores (indicating a higher degree of physical disability) and higher CESD scores (indicating a higher degree of clinically relevant depressive symptoms).
There is an age-related decline in serum DHEAS in African-American women. Lower DHEAS levels appear to be associated with a higher degree of physical disability and depressive symptoms in this population.
PAPSS2 (PAPS synthase 2) provides the universal sulfate donor PAPS (3′-phospho-adenosine-5′-phosphosulfate) to all human sulfotransferases, including SULT2A1, responsible for sulfation of the crucial androgen precursor dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Impaired DHEA sulfation is thought to increase the conversion of DHEA toward active androgens, a proposition supported by the previous report of a girl with inactivating PAPSS2 mutations who presented with low serum DHEA sulfate and androgen excess, clinically manifesting with premature pubarche and early-onset polycystic ovary syndrome.
Patients and Methods:
We investigated a family harboring two novel PAPSS2 mutations, including two compound heterozygous brothers presenting with disproportionate short stature, low serum DHEA sulfate, but normal serum androgens. Patients and parents underwent a DHEA challenge test comprising frequent blood sampling and urine collection before and after 100 mg DHEA orally, with subsequent analysis of DHEA sulfation and androgen metabolism by mass spectrometry. The functional impact of the mutations was investigated in silico and in vitro.
We identified a novel PAPSS2 frameshift mutation, c.1371del, p.W462Cfs*3, resulting in complete disruption, and a novel missense mutation, c.809G>A, p.G270D, causing partial disruption of DHEA sulfation. Both patients and their mother, who was heterozygous for p.W462Cfs*3, showed increased 5α-reductase activity at baseline and significantly increased production of active androgens after DHEA intake. The mother had a history of oligomenorrhea and chronic anovulation that required clomiphene for ovulation induction.
We provide direct in vivo evidence for the significant functional impact of mutant PAPSS2 on DHEA sulfation and androgen activation. Heterozygosity for PAPSS2 mutations can be associated with a phenotype resembling polycystic ovary syndrome.
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.
Body composition; Bone metabolism; Bone mineral density (BMD); Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels; Placebo-controlled trial; Testosterone
Serum and plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentration has been associated with several health parameters associated with aging including cognitive function, bone mineral density, and muscular strength. However, the effectiveness of salivary DHEA for the prediction of cognitive function, bone mineral density, and muscular strength in older adults is currently unknown. Thirty elderly African American females provided early morning salivary samples and DHEA levels were determined using a commercially available immunoassay. Participants completed testing for psychomotor and executive function via Trail Making Tests (TMT) A and B, respectively. Bone ultrasound attenuation (BUA) was used to bone density and an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP) was used to determine isometric strength. Age significantly correlated with time on TMT A (r=0.328) and B (r=0.615) but was not related to DHEA, BUA, or IMTP outcomes. Elevated DHEA was associated with longer time to completion for TMT A (χ2 = 5.14) but not to TMT B. DHEA levels were not associated with BUA or IMTP outcomes. While elevated levels of DHEA were correlated with impaired psychomotor function, salivary DHEA is not associated with executive function, bone mineral density, or isometric strength in elderly African American women.
Background and Purpose
Previous research suggests greater risk of coronary heart disease with lower levels of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). No studies have examined the association between DHEAS and risk for ischemic stroke. DHEAS may influence ischemic stroke risk through atherosclerotic related mechanisms (endothelial function and smooth muscle cell proliferation) or insulin resistance.
Between 1989-1990, 32,826 women without prior stroke in the Nurses’ Health Study, an observational cohort, provided blood samples and were followed for cardiovascular events. Among this sample, using a nested-case control design, 461 ischemic strokes confirmed by medical records through 2006. Cases were matched to controls free of stroke at the time of the index case and by age, ancestry, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, smoking status and date of sample collection. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was utilized.
Median DHEAS levels did not differ between cases (median=58.7) and controls (median=66.0; p-value=0.10). Conditional on matching factors, the lowest DHEAS quartile exhibited a relative risk (RR) of 1.30 for ischemic stroke (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.88-1.94), compared with the highest quartile and marginally unchanged when adjusted for confounders (RR=1.33; 95%CI: 0.87-2.02). When modeled as a binary variable dichotomized at the lowest quartile, women with low DHEAS (≤the lowest quartile) had a significantly increased multivariable adjusted risk of ischemic stroke compared to those with higher levels (RR=1.41; 95%CI: 1.03-1.92).
Lower DHEAS levels were associated with a greater risk of ischemic stroke, even after adjustment for potential confounders. These novel observations warrant confirmation in other populations.
Ischemic stroke; dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid in human, with the highest concentrations between age 20 and 30, but displaying a significant decrease with age. Many beneficial functions are ascribed to DHEAS. Nevertheless, long-term studies are very scarce concerning the intake of DHEAS over several years, and molecular investigations on DHEAS action are missing so far. In this study, the role of DHEAS on the first and rate-limiting step of steroid hormone biosynthesis was analyzed in a reconstituted in vitro system, consisting of purified CYP11A1, adrenodoxin and adrenodoxin reductase. DHEAS enhances the conversion of cholesterol by 26%. Detailed analyses of the mechanism of DHEAS action revealed increased binding affinity of cholesterol to CYP11A1 and enforced interaction with the electron transfer partner, adrenodoxin. Difference spectroscopy showed Kd-values of 40±2.7 µM and 24.8±0.5 µM for CYP11A1 and cholesterol without and with addition of DHEAS, respectively. To determine the Kd-value for CYP11A1 and adrenodoxin, surface plasmon resonance measurements were performed, demonstrating a Kd-value of 3.0±0.35 nM (with cholesterol) and of 2.4±0.05 nM when cholesterol and DHEAS were added. Kinetic experiments showed a lower Km and a higher kcat value for CYP11A1 in the presence of DHEAS leading to an increase of the catalytic efficiency by 75%. These findings indicate that DHEAS affects steroid hormone biosynthesis on a molecular level resulting in an increased formation of pregnenolone.
The current paper examines the effect of administering Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on visual-spatial performance in post-menopausal women (N=24, ages 55-80). The concurrent reduction of serum DHEA levels and visual-spatial performance in this population, coupled with the documented effects of DHEA’s androgenic metabolites on visual-spatial performance, suggest that DHEA administration may enhance visual-spatial performance. The current experiment used a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design in which 50 mg of oral DHEA was administered daily in the drug condition to explore this hypothesis. Performance on the Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification, Same-Different Judgment, and Visual Search tasks and serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone, estrone and cortisol were measured in the DHEA and placebo conditions. In contrast to prior experiments using the current methodology that did not demonstrate effects of DHEA administration on episodic and short-term memory tasks, the current experiment demonstrated large beneficial effects of DHEA administration on Mental Rotation, Subject-Ordered Pointing, Fragmented Picture Identification, Perceptual Identification and Same-Different Judgment. Moreover, DHEA administration enhanced serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone and estrone, and regression analyses demonstrated that levels of DHEA and its metabolites were positively related to cognitive performance on the visual-spatial tasks in the DHEA condition
Dehydroepiadrosterone (DHEA); post-menopausal women; cognition; visual-spatial tasks; androgens
There is an inherited susceptibility to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Some investigators have suggested that premature male-pattern balding is a male phenotype in PCOS families, but this remains controversial. We recently reported evidence for an autosomal monogenic abnormality in ovarian and adrenal steroidogenesis in the sisters of women with PCOS. We performed this study to determine whether we could identify a clinical or biochemical phenotype in the brothers of women with PCOS. One hundred nineteen brothers of 87 unrelated women with PCOS and 68 weight- and ethnicity-comparable unrelated control men were examined and had fasting blood samples obtained. The odds of balding (Hamilton score ≥ V) did not differ in the brothers of PCOS women compared with control men. Brothers of women with PCOS had significantly elevated dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels [brothers 3035 ± 1132 ng/ml (mean ± SD) vs. control men 2494 ± 1172 ng/ml; P < 0.05]. There was a significant positive linear relationship between DHEAS levels in PCOS probands and their brothers (r = 0.35; P = 0.001). There was no significant bimodal distribution in DHEAS levels, and there were no significant differences in other parameters in brothers of PCOS women with high DHEAS levels compared with those with low DHEAS levels. There is familial clustering of elevated DHEAS levels in the brothers of women with PCOS, suggesting that this is a genetic trait. This might reflect the same underlying defect in steroidogenesis that we found in the sisters of women with PCOS. Balding was not increased in the brothers of women with PCOS. We conclude that there is a biochemical reproductive endocrine phenotype in men in PCOS families.