DHEA treatment: myth or reality?

Bruno Allolio, Wiebke Arlt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    132 Citations (Scopus)


    Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate ester are major secretory products of the human adrenal. Serum DHEA concentrations decline with advancing age and DHEA supplementation in elderly people has been advertized as anti-aging medication. However, such claims are based on experiments in rodents with a fundamentally different DHEA physiology. In humans, DHEA is a crucial precursor of sex steroid biosynthesis and exerts indirect endocrine and intracrine actions following conversion to androgens and estrogens. In addition, it acts as a neurosteroid via effects on neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. DHEA has considerable effects on mood, well-being and sexuality in patients with adrenal insufficiency, and also in those with mood disorders. However, subjects with a physiological, age-related decline in DHEA secretion show little benefit from DHEA administration. Future research should focus on DHEA treatment for adrenal insufficiency, and DHEA administration in both patients receiving chronic glucocorticoid treatment and women with androgen deficiency.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)288-94
    Number of pages7
    JournalTrends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002


    • Adrenal Insufficiency
    • Affect
    • Aged
    • Aging
    • Animals
    • Body Composition
    • Dehydroepiandrosterone
    • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
    • Female
    • Glucocorticoids
    • Hormone Replacement Therapy
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Mortality
    • Skin


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