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Steroids. 2012 Jan;77(1-2):10-26. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2011.09.008. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

Oxidative metabolism of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and biologically active oxygenated metabolites of DHEA and epiandrosterone (EpiA)--recent reports.

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Université de Caen Basse-Normandie, UFR des Sciences Pharmaceutiques, Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche sur le Médicament de Normandie, UPRES EA-4258, FR CNRS INC3M, Caen, France.


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a multifunctional steroid with a broad range of biological effects in humans and animals. DHEA can be converted to multiple oxygenated metabolites in the brain and peripheral tissues. The mechanisms by which DHEA exerts its effects are not well understood. However, evidence that the effects of DHEA are mediated by its oxygenated metabolites has accumulated. This paper will review the panel of oxygenated DHEA metabolites (7, 16 and 17-hydroxylated derivatives) including a number of 5α-androstane derivatives, such as epiandrosterone (EpiA) metabolites. The most important aspects of the oxidative metabolism of DHEA in the liver, intestine and brain are described. Then, this article reviews the reported biological effects of oxygenated DHEA metabolites from recent findings with a specific focus on cancer, inflammatory and immune processes, osteoporosis, thermogenesis, adipogenesis, the cardiovascular system, the brain and the estrogen and androgen receptors.

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