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June 2002

Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement administration: pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies in healthy elderly subjects.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA; 50 and 25 mg) and placebo tablets were orally administered daily to 24 healthy aging men and women (67.8 +/- 4.3 yr) for 8 days according to a balanced incomplete block design. Nine blood tests on both the first and eighth days allowed the measurement of DHEA, its sulfate DHEAS, and metabolites: testosterone, 5alpha-androstan-3alpha, 17beta-diol glucuronide, estradiol, and estrone. Relatively low background levels of DHEA(S) were observed, and with the reestablishment of “young” levels, four important results were obtained. 1) Blood DHEA had an apparent terminal half-life of more than 20 h, the same order of magnitude as that of blood DHEAS, a result explainable by back-hydrolysis of the large amount of DHEAS formed after oral administration of DHEA, a mechanism providing long-lived unconjugated DHEA and metabolites. 2) The metabolic conversion of DHEAS to DHEA was significantly greater in women than in men. 3) No accumulation of steroids was observed. 4) No worrying transformation to androgen and estrogen was recorded; indeed, the limited increased estradiol in aged women could be predicted to be beneficial. These results suggested that daily oral administration of DHEA (25/50 mg) is safe in elderly subjects. The 50-mg dose was chosen for a 1 yr, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of daily oral administration of DHEA in 60- to 80-yr-old individuals (DHEAge).

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2000 Sep;85(9):3208-17

Chemoprevention of hormone-dependent prostate cancer in the Wistar-Unilever rat.

The high incidence and long latent period of prostate cancer make it an ideal target for chemoprevention. We have evaluated a series of agents for chemopreventive efficacy using a model in which hormone-dependent prostate cancers are induced in the Wistar-Unilever (WU) rat by sequential treatment with antiandrogen (cyproterone acetate), androgen (testosterone propionate), and direct-acting chemical carcinogen (N-methyl-N-nitrosourea), followed by chronic androgen stimulation (testosterone). This regimen reproducibly induces prostate cancers in high incidence, with no gross toxicity and a low incidence of neoplasia in the seminal vesicle and other non-target tissues. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 9-cis-retinoic acid (9-cis-RA) are the most active agents identified to date. DHEA inhibits prostate cancer induction both when chronic administration is begun prior to carcinogen exposure, and when administration is delayed until preneoplastic prostate lesions are present. 9-cis-RA is the most potent inhibitor of prostate carcinogenesis identified; a study to determine the efficacy of delayed administration of 9-cis-RA is in progress. Liarozole fumarate confers modest protection against prostate carcinogenesis, while
N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (fenretinide), alpha-difluoromethylornithine, oltipraz, DL-alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), and L-selenomethionine are inactive. Chemoprevention efficacy evaluations in the WU rat will support the identification of agents that merit study for prostate cancer chemoprevention in humans.

Eur Urol 1999;35(5-6):464-7

Potentially predictive and manipulable blood serum correlates of aging in the healthy human male: progressive decreases in bioavailable testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and the ratio of insulin-like growth factor 1 to growth hormone.

A cross-sectional survey was made in 56 exceptionally healthy males, ranging in age from 20 to 84 years. Measurements were made of selected steroidal components and peptidic hormones in blood serum, and cognitive and physical tests were performed. Of those blood serum variables that gave highly significant negative correlations with age (r > -0.6), bioavailable testosterone (BT), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), and the ratio of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) to growth hormone (GH) showed a stepwise pattern of age-related changes most closely resembling those of the age steps themselves. Of these, BT correlated best with significantly age-correlated cognitive and physical measures. Because DHEAS correlated well with BT and considerably less well than BT with the cognitive and physical measures, it seems likely that BT and/or substances to which BT gives rise in tissues play a more direct role in whatever processes are rate-limiting in the functions measured and that DHEAS relates more indirectly to these functions. The high correlation of IGF-1/GH with age, its relatively low correlation with BT, and the patterns of correlations of IGF-1/GH and BT with significantly age-correlated cognitive and physical measures suggest that the GH-IGF-1 axis and BT play independent roles in affecting these functions. Serial determinations made after oral ingestion of pregnenolone and data from the literature suggest there is interdependence of steroid metabolic systems with those operational in control of interrelations in the GH-IGF-1 axis. Longitudinal concurrent measurements of serum levels of BT, DHEAS, and IGF-1/GH together with detailed studies of their correlations with age-correlated functional measures may be useful in detecting early age-related dysregulations and may be helpful in devising ameliorative approaches.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7537-42

Serum concentrations of estradiol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and soy product intake in relation to psychologic well-being in peri- and postmenopausal Japanese women.

The effect of steroid hormones, such as estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on psychologic well-being of women has been suggested. Dietary estrogen may also affect psychologic status. We examined the cross-sectional relationships of serum concentrations of estradiol (E2) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) and dietary intake of soy products to psychologic status measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)-12 scales in 86 peri- and postmenopausal Japanese women. Intake of soy products and other dietary components was estimated from a validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. A fasting blood sample was obtained from each woman to measure serum concentrations of E2 and DHEAS. Serum DHEAS was significantly inversely correlated with CES-D scale (r = -.22, P = .04) and GHQ-12 scale (r = -.27, P = .01). Soy product intake was significantly inversely correlated with CES-D scale (r = -.22, P = .04). Neither serum E2 concentration nor the ratio of serum E2 to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) was associated with any of the psychologic measurements. These data suggest a possibility that endogenous DHEA sulfate and dietary soy may modulate psychologic well-being of peri- and postmenopausal women.

Metabolism 2000 Dec;49(12):1561-4

Dehydroepiandrosterone in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: a prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

OBJECTIVES: In 1994, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study presented an inverse correlation of the serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and the incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED). We evaluated the efficacy of DHEA replacement in the treatment of ED in a prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. METHODS: The inclusion criteria included ED, normal physical and neurologic examinations, serum levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, prolactin, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) within the normal range, and a serum DHEA sulfate level below 1.5 micromol/L. Also all patients had a full erection after a pharmacologic erection test with 100 microg prostaglandin E1; pharmacocavernosography showed no visualization in corporeal venous structures. Forty patients from our impotence clinic were recruited and randomly divided into two groups of 20 patients each. Group 1 was treated with an oral dose of 50 mg DHEA and group 2 with a placebo one time a day for 6 months. The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), a 15-item questionnaire, was used to rate the success of this therapy. RESULTS: Therapy response was defined as the ability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance according to the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Impotence. DHEA treatment was associated with higher mean scores for all five domains of the IIEF. There was no impact of DHEA treatment on the mean serum levels of PSA, prolactin, testosterone, the mean prostate volume, and the mean postvoid residual urine volume. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that oral DHEA treatment may be of benefit in the treatment of ED. Although our patient data base is too small to do relevant statistical analysis, we believe that our data show a biologically obvious trend that justifies further extended studies.

Urology 1999 Mar;53(3):590-4; discussion 594-5

Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone and quinapril on nephropathy in obese Zucker rats.

BACKGROUND: The obese Zucker rat exhibits insulin resistance, develops nephropathy at an early age, and may be a model of diabetic nephropathy. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may ameliorate many of the factors that contribute to diabetic nephropathy, while angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are known to be effective. One marker of nephropathy is the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin. METHODS: We studied the effect of DHEA on the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in obese Zucker rats and compared the changes with those in a control group, a group given quinapril, and a group on a low-calorie diet. DHEA (0.6%) added to plain chow, quinapril (0.3 mg/kg) added to drinking water, and a low-calorie diet based on pair-feeding were administered to obese rats from age 4 to 20 weeks. Immunohistochemical expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin, a marker of interstitial and glomerular fibrosis and an early indicator of nephropathy, was measured semiquantitatively in glomeruli, cortical interstitium, and medullary interstitium on a scale of 0 to 4 and was reported as mean +/- SEM. RESULTS: When compared with the obese control group, quinapril exhibited a marked reduction in alpha-smooth muscle actin staining in glomeruli, cortical interstitium, and medullary interstitium (P < 0.0005); DHEA reduced alpha-smooth muscle actin staining in cortical interstitium and medullary interstitium (P < 0. 005), and a low-calorie diet reduced alpha-smooth muscle actin staining in cortical and medullary interstitium (P < 0.005), which was similar to the effects of DHEA. CONCLUSIONS: DHEA was similar to a low-calorie diet in reducing the immunohistochemical staining of alpha-smooth muscle actin in obese Zucker rats. However, quinapril exerted a marked protective effect on the development of fibrosis, as indicated by alpha-smooth muscle actin staining, which was significantly less than that of DHEA at the doses studied.

Kidney Int 2001 Jan;59(1):37-43

Neuroendocrine effect of a short-term treatment with DHEA in postmenopausal women.

OBJECTIVES: A progressive decline of plasma dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels occurs in women during aging related to the reduction of adrenocortical secretion. A specific action of DHEA on the central nervous system (CNS) is suggested by the improvement of psychological and physical well-being in postmenopausal women after DHEA supplementation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the neuroendocrine effects of short-term DHEA supplementation in postmenopausal women, evaluating changes of plasma beta-endorphin (beta-EP) and growth hormone (GH) before and after oral DHEA (100 mg/day) for 7 days in postmenopausal women (n = 6). METHODS: Before and after 7 days of DHEA supplementation, postmenopausal women underwent a neuroendocrine test with clonidine, an alpha 2 presinaptic agonist for adrenergic system (1.25 mg i.v.). Basal plasma DHEA, androstenedione (A), testosterone (T), estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2) levels were evaluated before and after treatment, while plasma beta-EP and GH levels were measured before and 15, 30, 45, 60 and 90 min after clonidine injection. RESULTS: Basal plasma beta-EP and GH levels did not show a significant difference before and after short-term DHEA administration, while circulating A, T, E1 and E2 significantly increased after treatment. The clonidine test induced a significant increase of plasma beta-EP levels in women after receiving DHEA supplementation but not before; conversely, plasma GM levels increased both before and after treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The present study indicates that short-term DHEA supplementation in postmenopausal women is able to restore the impaired response of pituitary beta-EP to clonidine, an alpha 2 presinaptic agonist. According to these data it is possible to hypothesize that DHEA could play a role in the psychological and physical well-being of postmenopausal women acting via a restoration of neuroendocrine control of antero-pituitary beta-EP secretion.

Maturitas 1998 Jan 12;28(3):251-7

Dietary supplements of dehydroepiandrosterone in relation to breast cancer risk.

OBJECTIVE: Dietary supplements of the adrernocertical hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are widely taken in the hope of staving off the aging process. Potential dangers have not been fully researched, particularly evidence of a correlation between increased serum concentrations of DHEA and higher breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. DESIGN: The review examines reports of clinical, epidemiological experimental studies for evidence that DHEA may be a factor in promoting the growth of mammary cancer. Biological mechanisms which might be involved are identified. RESULTS: DHEA is reported to inhibit the growth of human mammary cancer cells in vitro and also the growth of chemically-induced mammary cancer in rats. However, growth inhibition occurs only in the presence of high oestrogen concentrations, and growth stimulation occurs in both models in the presence of a low-level oestrogen milieu. Epidemiological studies report a positive correlation between higher serum concentrations of DHEA and increased breast cancer risk in the case of postmenopausal but not premenopausal women. Postulated mechanisms include a direct effect on mammary cells by androgenic metabolites of DHEA or an indirect effect by an increase in bioavailable oestrogen levels. The increased serum concentration of free insulin-like growth factor 1 which follows prolonged DHEA intake may also have a role by stimulating oestrogen receptor activity in breast tissue. CONCLUSION: Late promotion of breast cancer in postmenopausal women may be stimulated by prolonged intake of DHEA, and the risk may be increased by the endocrine abnormality associated with pre-existing abdominal obesity. Caution is advised in the use of dietary supplements of DHEA particularly by obese postmenopausal women.

Eur J Clin Nutr 1999 Oct;53(10):771-5

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