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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Jul 1;32(5):1118-30. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2007.12.001. Epub 2007 Dec 8.

Modulation of neurotransmitter systems by dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate: mechanism of action and relevance to psychiatric disorders.

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Department of Neurochemistry from the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Insurgentes Sur 3877, La Fama, Tlalpan, Mexico City 14269, Mexico.


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is synthesized in the brain and several studies have shown that this steroid is a modulator of synaptic transmission. The effect of DHEA, and its sulfate ester DHEAS, on glutamate and GABA neurotransmission has been extensively studied but some effects on other neurotransmitter systems, such as dopamine, serotonin and nitric oxide, have also been reported. This review summarizes studies showing the effect of DHEA and DHEAS on neurotransmitter systems at different levels (metabolism, release, reuptake, receptor activation), as well as the activation of voltage-gated ion channels and calcium homeostasis, showing the variety of effects that these steroids exert on those systems, allowing the discussion of its mechanisms of action and its relevance to psychiatric disorders.

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