Influence of oral dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on urinary steroid metabolites in males and females

F Callies, W Arlt, L Siekmann, D Hübler, F Bidlingmaier, B Allolio

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Oral dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) replacement therapy may have a multitude of potential beneficial effects and exerts its action mainly via peripheral bioconversion to androgens (and estrogens). A daily dose of 50-mg DHEA has been shown by us and others to restore low endogenous serum DHEA concentrations to normal youthful levels followed by an increase in circulating androgens and estrogens. As the hepatic first-pass effect may lead to a non physiological metabolism of DHEA after oral ingestion we studied the influence of two single DHEA doses (50 and 100 mg) on the excretion of steroid metabolites in 14 elderly males [age 58.8+/-5.1 years (mean +/- SEM)] with endogenous DHEAS levels <1500 ng/ml and in 9 healthy females (age 23.3+/-4.1 years) with transient suppression of endogenous DHEA secretion induced by dexamethasone (dex) pretreatment (4x0.5 mg/day/4 days). Urinary steroid profiles in the elderly males were compared to the steroid patterns found in 15 healthy young men (age 28.9+/-5.1 years). In the females the results were compared to their individual baseline excretion without dex pretreatment. Urinary steroid determinations were carried out by semiautomatic capillary gas-liquid chromatography. In both genders DHEA administration induced significant increases in urinary DHEA (females: baseline vs. 50 mg vs. 100 mg: 361+/-131 vs. 510+/-264 vs. 1541+/-587 microg/day; males: placebo vs. 50 mg vs. 100 mg: 434+/-154 vs. 1174+/-309 vs. 4751+/-1059 microg/day) as well as in the major DHEA metabolites androsterone (A) and etiocholanolone (Et). Fifty mg DHEA led to an excretion of DHEA and its metabolites only slightly above baseline levels found in young females and in young men, respectively, whereas 100 mg induced clearly supraphysiological values. After 50 mg DHEA the ratios of urinary DHEA metabolites (A/DHEA, Et/DHEA) were not significantly different between elderly males vs. young male volunteers and young healthy females versus their individual baseline levels. In conclusion, an oral dose of 30 to 50 mg DHEA restores a physiological urinary steroid profile in subjects with DHEA deficiency without evidence for a relevant hepatic first-pass effect on urinary metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000


  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Androgens
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Tetrahydrocortisol
  • Tetrahydrocortisone


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