DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)  

This outline and these notes provide detailed information about DHEA and aging.

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Properties
       - steroid hormone  

Sources
       - adrenal cortex  
            - converted to or acts like sex steroids (i.e., testosterone, estrogen)  
       - not present in rodents    
 
Physiological activities
       - unknown  
       - may increase or decrease insulin sensitivity  
       - may increase or decrease  risk of myocardial infarction or other cardiac pathologies  
       - may increase or decrease risk of death from MI or other cardiac pathologies  
       - may decrease free radical damage to lipids  
            - may decrease use of pentose shunt  
       - may decrease risk of cancers initiated or promoted by free radical damage    

Changes with aging
    - decreases with aging  
        - age-related decreased DHEA correlated with age-related changes  
            - decreased melatonin  
            - decreased longevity  
            - decreased psychological status  
            - decreased IADLs  
            - increased cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, depression  
            - increased mortality in males    

Effects from DHEA Supplementation

       - highly variable research results due to:  
            - types of animal used (e.g., rats have little endogenous DHEA relative to humans)  
            - male versus female  
            - level of other sex steroids present  
            - diet (e.g., lipids)  
            - androgen or estrogen effects in different milieux  
                    - DHEA acts like anti-estrogen in presence of high estrogen  
             - initial levels  
             - final levels  
             - age  
             - use pre-menopausal  or postmenopausal

       - reported beneficial results  
            - improved immune functioning  
            - improved self-reported "quality of life"  
            - increased muscle mass  
            - increased GH  
            - increased insulin sensitivity  
            - increased HDLs  
            - decreased blood cholesterol  
            - decreased serum LDLs  
            - decreased serum triglycerides  
            - decreased blood clot formation  
            - decreased body fat  
            - decreased atherogenesis  
            - decreased risk of certain cancers (e.g., breast, lung, colon, skin, thyroid, urinary bladder)  
       
- reported adverse effects  
           
- increased sebum secretion  
            - increased risk of liver cancer  
            - increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women  
            - increased risk of atherosclerosis in women    

CAUTION ! !
         - unknown effects  
        - unknown mechanisms of action  
        - metabolized to many unknown substances  

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    © Copyright 2000 - Augustine G. DiGiovanna - All rights reserved.
This material MAY be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in any data
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instructors and students in courses where students are required to purchase the book HUMAN
AGING: BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES by Augustine G. DiGiovanna, The McGraw-Hill
Companies, New York, 1994 or 2000; (2) If prior written permission is obtained from Augustine G.
DiGiovanna, Ph.D., Salisbury University  - agdigiovanna@Salisbury.edu