Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2008 Jul;25(145):77-82. PMID: 18839621
Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology, Silesian Medical University of Katowice, Poland.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in the aging people is characterised by an unexplained reduction of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) secretion while ACTH and cortisol production remains relatively unchanged. This decline in the biological activity of the zona reticularis, referred to as 'adrenopause', may contribute to the physiology of human aging. The reduced endogenous concentrations of DHEA and DHEAS found in advancing age have been correlated with a constellation of health problems. Because these steroids seem to play a role in the maintenance of immunity, musculoskeletal integrity, and cardiovascular health, age-associated declines in adrenal androgen production may lead to decreased immune function, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis. Despite clear benefits of DHEA administration in patients with adrenal insufficiency, the results of DHEA supplementation in healthy euadrenal subjects are not so clear-cut. Studies assessing its action on sexual function, metabolism and cardiovascular functions have provided conflicting results. This paper summarises the present state of knowledge on the age-related changes in adrenal androgen production and discusses pros and cons of DHEA use in older people.