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June 2002


Oxidative derangement in rat synaptosomes induced by hyperglycaemia: restorative effect of dehydroepiandrosterone treatment.

Central nervous system damage in diabetes is caused by both cerebral atherosclerosis and the detrimental effect of chronic hyperglycaemia on nervous tissue. Hyperglycaemia is the primer of a series of cascade reactions causing overproduction of free radicals. There is increasing evidence that these reactive molecules contribute to neuronal tissue damage. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been reported to possess antioxidant properties. This study evaluates the oxidative status in the synaptosomal fraction isolated from the brain of streptozotocin-treated rats and the antioxidant effect of DHEA treatment on diabetic rats. Hydroxyl radical generation, hydrogen peroxide content, and the level of the reactive oxygen species was increased (P<0.05) in synaptosomes isolated from streptozotocin-treated rats. The derangement of the oxidative status was confirmed by a low level of reduced glutathione and alpha-tocopherol. DHEA treatment (4 mg per day for 3 weeks, per os) protected the synaptosomes against oxidative damage: synaptosomes from diabetic DHEA-treated rats showed a significant decrease in reactive species (P<0.05) and in the formation of end products of lipid peroxidation, evaluated in terms of fluorescent chromolipid (P<0.01). Moreover, DHEA treatment restored the unsaturated fatty acid content of the membrane and the reduced glutathione and alpha-tocopherol levels to normal levels and restored membrane NaK-ATPase activity close to control levels. The results demonstrate that DHEA supplementation greatly reduces oxidative damage in synaptosomes isolated from diabetic rats and suggest that this neurosteroid may participate in protecting the integrity of synaptic membranes against hyperglycaemia-induced damage.

Biochem Pharmacol 2000 Aug 1;60(3):389-95

Dehydroepiandrosterone prevents oxidative injury induced by transient ischemia/reperfusion in the brain of diabetic rats.

Both chronic hyperglycemia and ischemia/reperfusion (IR) cause an imbalance in the oxidative state of tissues. Normoglycemic and streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats were subjected to bilateral carotid artery occlusion for 30 min followed by reperfusion for 60 min. Rats had either been treated with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for 7, 14 or 21 days (2 or 4 mg/day per rat) or left untreated. Oxidative state, antioxidant balance, and membrane integrity were evaluated in isolated synaptosomes. IR increased the levels of reactive species and worsened the synaptic function, affecting membrane Na/K-ATPase activity and lactate dehydrogenase release in all rats. The oxidative imbalance was much severer when transient IR was induced in STZ-diabetic rats. DHEA treatment restored H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and reactive oxygen species to close to control levels in normoglycemic rats and significantly reduced the level of all reactive species in STZ-diabetic rats. Moreover, DHEA treatment counteracted the detrimental effect of IR on membrane integrity and function: the increase of lactate dehydrogenase release and the drop in Na/K-ATPase activity were significantly prevented in both normoglycemic and STZ-diabetic rats. The results confirm that DHEA, an adrenal steroid that is synthesized de novo by brain neurons and astrocytes, possesses a multitargeted antioxidant effect. They also show that DHEA treatment is effective in preventing both derangement of the oxidative state and neuronal damage induced by IR in experimental diabetes.

Diabetes 2000 Nov;49(11):1924-31

Dehydroepiandrosterone suppresses elevated hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA level in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice: comparison with troglitazone.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is known to improve hyperglycemia of diabetic C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice that are obese and insulin resistant. In a previous study, we reported that DHEA as well as troglitazone suppresses the elevated hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes, glucose-6-phosphatase (G6Pase) and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (FBPase) activities in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. In the present study, we evaluated the changes in mRNA of G6Pase and FBPase in db/db mice. Despite hyperinsulinemia, the G6Pase mRNA level of db/db mice was elevated as compared to their heterozygote littermate db/+m mice. In contrast, the FBPase mRNA level was not elevated in db/db mice. Administration of DHEA for two weeks significantly decreased the blood glucose level and the elevated G6Pase mRNA level in db/db mice. No significant changes were seen in the FBPase mRNA level after the administration of DHEA. Administration of troglitazone also decreased the blood glucose and G6Pase mRNA level in db/db mice although no changes were seen in the FBPase mRNA level. These results suggest that the elevation of G6Pase mRNA is important in elucidating the cause of insulin resistance, and that the G6Pase gene is at least one target for the hypoglycemic effects of DHEA as an insulin sensitizing agent in db/db mice.

Endocr J 2000 Dec;47(6):799-804

Dehydroepiandrosterone protects tissues of streptozotocin-treated rats against oxidative stress.

Chronic hyperglycemia in diabetes determines the overproduction of free radicals, and evidence is increasing that these contribute to the development of diabetic complications. It has recently been reported that dehydroepiandrosterone possesses antioxidant properties; this study evaluates whether, administered daily for three weeks per os, it may provide antioxidant protection in tissues of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Lipid peroxidation was evaluated on liver, brain and kidney homogenates from diabetic animals, measuring both steady-state concentrations of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and fluorescent chromolipids. Hyperglycemic rats had higher thiobarbituric acid reactive substances formation and fluorescent chromolipids levels than controls. Dehydroepiandrosterone-treatment (4 mg/day for 3 weeks) protected tissues against lipid peroxidation: liver, kidney and brain homogenates from dehydroepiandrosterone-treated animals showed a significant decrease of both thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and fluorescent chromolipids formation. The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on the cellular antioxidant defenses was also investigated, as impaired antioxidant enzyme activities were considered proof of oxygen-dependent toxicity. In kidney and liver homogenates, dehydroepiandrosterone treatment restored to near-control values the cytosolic level of reduced glutathione, as well as the enzymatic activities of superoxide-dismutase, glutathione-peroxidase, catalase. In the brain, only an increase of catalase activity was evident (p < .05), which reverted with dehydroepiandrosterone treatment. The results demonstrate that DHEA treatment clearly reduces oxidative stress products in the tissues of streptozotocin-treated rats.

Free Radic Biol Med 1999 Jun;26(11-12):1467-74

Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement in women with adrenal insufficiency.

BACKGROUND: The physiologic role of dehydroepiandrosterone in humans is still unclear. Adrenal insufficiency leads to a deficiency of dehydroepiandrosterone; we therefore, investigated the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone replacement, in patients with adrenal insufficiency. METHODS: In a double-blind study, 24 women with adrenal insufficiency received in random order 50 mg of dehydroepiandrosterone orally each morning for four months and placebo daily for four months, with a one-month washout period. We measured serum steroid hormones, insulin-like growth factor I, lipids, and sex hormone-binding globulin, and we evaluated well-being and sexuality with the use of validated psychological questionnaires and visual-analogue scales, respectively. The women were assessed before treatment, after one and four months of treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone, after one and four months of placebo, and one month after the end of the second treatment period. RESULTS: Treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone raised the initially low serum concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, androstenedione, and testosterone into the normal range; serum concentrations of sex hormone-binding globulin, total cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased significantly. Dehydroepiandrosterone significantly improved overall well-being as well as scores for depression and anxiety. For the global severity index, the mean (+/-SD) change from base line was -0.18+/-0.29 after four months of dehydroepiandrosterone therapy, as compared with 0.03+/-0.29 after four months of placebo (P=0.02). As compared with placebo, dehydroepiandrosterone significantly increased the frequency of sexual thoughts (P=0.006), sexual interest (P=0.002), and satisfaction with both mental and physical aspects of sexuality (P=0.009 and P=0.02, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Dehydroepiandrosterone improves well-being and sexuality in women with adrenal insufficiency.

N Engl J Med 1999 Sep 30;341(14):1013-20

Dehydroepiandrosterone prevents lipid peroxidation and cell growth inhibition induced by high glucose concentration in cultured rat mesangial cells.

The oxidative stress induced by high glucose concentration contributes to tissue damage associated with diabetes, including renal injury. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the major secretory product of the human adrenal gland, has been shown to possess a multi-targeted antioxidant activity which is also effective against lipid peroxidation induced by high glucose. In this study we evaluated the effect of DHEA on the growth impairment which high glucose concentration induces in cultured rat mesangial cells. Primary cultures of rat mesangial cells were grown for 10 days in media containing either normal (i.e. 5.6 mmol/l) or high (i.e. 30 mmol/l) concentrations of glucose, without or with DHEA at different concentrations. The impairment of cell growth induced by high glucose was reversed by 100 nmol/l and 500 nmol/l DHEA, which had no effect on mesangial cells cultured in media containing glucose at the normal physiological concentration (5.6 mmol/l). In high-glucose cultured mesangial cells, DHEA also attenuated the lipid peroxidation, as measured by thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) generation and 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) concentration, and preserved the cellular content of reduced glutathione as well as the membrane Na+/K+ ATPase activity. The data further support the protective effect of DHEA against oxidative damage induced by high glucose concentrations, and bring into focus its possible effectiveness in preventing chronic complications of diabetes.

J Endocrinol 2000 Aug;166(2):401-6

Effects of a single bout of exercise and exercise training on steroid levels in middle-aged type 2 diabetic men: relationship to abdominal adipose tissue distribution and metabolic status.

Lower androgen levels have been suggested to be associated with type 2 diabetes and central obesity and are probably involved in the development of atherosclerosis. The present study investigates the effect of acute and chronic exercise on Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels in relation to abdominal fat distribution and metabolic status in type 2 diabetes. Twenty weight-stable, middle-aged males with type 2 diabetes were enrolled in the study and participated in a submaximal (VO(2) peak) and moderate (50% VO(2) peak) exercise bout. The subjects were randomly assigned either to a trained or a control group, respectively. Physical training consisted of an 8 week program of aerobic exercise (75% VO(2) peak, 45 min), twice a week and intermittent exercise, once a week, on a bicycle ergometer. Acute exercise significantly increased DHEA and Testosterone (T) levels. Physical training increased VO(2) peak (42%, p <0.001), insulin sensitivity index (K(ITT)) (57.5%, p <0.02), and basal DHEA levels (36%, p <0.05), and decreased HbA1c (29%, p <0.001), visceral adipose tissue (VAT) (44%, p <0.01) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) levels (18%, p <0.01). Body weight, BMI and insulin, T levels were not modified. Changes in DHEA levels were not correlated with changes in insulin sensitivity and abdominal fat distribution. In conclusion, exercise training favourably affects DHEA levels independently of improvements of metabolic status and abdominal fat distribution in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Metab 2000 Dec;26(6):450-7

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