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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995 Dec 29;774:281-90.

Dehydroepiandrosterone inhibits human platelet aggregation in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298, USA.


The hypothesis has been advanced that the adrenal steroids dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) exert antiatherogenic and cardioprotective actions. Platelet activation has also been implicated in atherogenesis. To determine if DHEA and DHEAS affect platelet activation, the effects of these steroids on platelet aggregation were assessed both in vitro and in vivo. When DHEAS was added to pooled platelet-rich plasma before the addition of the agonist arachidonate, either the rate of platelet aggregation was slowed or aggregation was completely inhibited. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by DHEA was both dose- and time-dependent. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by DHEA was accompanied by reduced platelet thromboxane B2 (TxB2) production. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by DHEA was also demonstrated in vivo. In a randomized, double-blind trial, 10 normal men received either DHEA 300 mg (n = 5) or placebo capsule (n = 5) orally three times daily for 14 days. In one man in the DHEA group arachidonate-stimulated platelet aggregation was inhibited completely during DHEA administration, whereas in three other men in the DHEA group the rate of platelet aggregation was prolonged, and the sensitivity and responsiveness to agonist were reduced. None of the men in the placebo group manifested any change in platelet activity. These findings suggest that DHEA retards platelet aggregation in humans. Inhibition of platelet activity by DHEA may contribute to the putative antiatherogenic and cardioprotective effects of DHEA.

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