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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1544-9.

Dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation and bone turnover in middle-aged to elderly men.

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  • 1Department of Growth and Development, University of California at San Francisco, California 94143-0438, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Sep;88(9):4148.


In the present placebo-controlled, double-blind study, we assessed the effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation (90 mg orally/d) on bone turnover in 43 healthy men, 56-80 yr old. Placebo or steroid was given for 6 months, followed by a 1-month washout period and then a further 6 months of the opposite agent. Serum samples were collected at baseline 3, 6, 7, and 13 months and assayed for procollagen peptide, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, and osteocalcin, all markers of bone formation. Measurements were also made of serum cortisol, DHEA/DHEA-S, E2 and free and total T. First void, fasting urine was collected at baseline, 6, 7, and 13 months and assessed for deoxypyridinoline, a marker of bone resorption. Mean serum DHEA and DHEA-S levels in treated men were increased approximately 3-fold ( approximately 2.2 ng/ml to approximately 6 ng/ml) and 4.5-fold ( approximately 1000 ng/ml to approximately 4500 ng/ml), respectively, after 6 months and returned to baseline after washout. Similarly, circulating E2 concentrations were also increased 1.4-fold (from approximately 16-23 pg/ml; P < 0.001), a finding not observed with any other measured hormone. Bone marker levels remained remarkably constant at each sampling interval; procollagen peptide at approximately 8.0 ng/ml; bone-specific alkaline phosphatase at approximately 21.0 U/liter; deoxypyridinoline at approximately 4.5 nmol/mmol Cr. Osteocalcin showed a transient reduction from approximately 10.2- 6.2 ng/ml, P < 0.005 to P < 0.001, at 3 months, but this decline was observed in both treated and controls. Stratifying the marker levels by age or baseline DHEA/DHEA-S levels did not affect the findings. We conclude that oral DHEA does not affect bone turnover in middle-aged to elderly men when used for a 6-month period at doses targeted to restore circulating levels of the steroid to that seen in young adults.

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