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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;94(8):2945-51. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-0386. Epub 2009 May 26.

Circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations during the menopausal transition.

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Center for Health and the Environment, University of California at Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



A previous report from the Study of Women Across the Nation indicated a rise in dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) during the menopausal transition using data from three annual visits.


Our objective was to examine changes in DHEAS with chronological and ovarian aging, expanding the original analyses to include 10 yr of annual data.


A longitudinal observational study and cross-sectional analyses of baseline data were conducted. OUTCOME MEASURES AND SUBJECTS: DHEAS, age, menopause status, ethnicity, smoking, weight, and height were assessed in 2886 women from five ethnic groups aged 42-52 yr at entry. Hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, and hormone use were excluded.


Cross-sectional analysis at baseline showed a linear decline in circulating log-transformed DHEAS with increasing age for either the entire cohort (2.81% per year) or for individual ethnicities. A similar negative association with baseline age (2.44% decline per year) was seen in longitudinal linear mixed modeling including observations from premenopause through late postmenopause, an additional 0.33% decline/year. In contradistinction, a late-transition rise in DHEAS was detected when the same women were analyzed by ovarian status. The average increase in mean circulating DHEAS level between early and late menopause transition, beyond changes predicted by aging, was 3.95%, followed by an average decline of 3.96% during the late postmenopause. Approximately 84.5% of the women had an estimated within-woman increase in DHEAS from premenopause/early perimenopause to late perimenopause/early postmenopause.


These observations underscore differences between cross-sectional and longitudinal studies and the importance of considering ovarian status. Additional investigations regarding adrenal contribution to sex steroids in mid-aged women are warranted.

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