The Salimetrics Research Library
Look up current saliva research on
and related analytes here!
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA; androstenolone; 3ß-hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one) is a steroid hormone produced principally in the adrenal cortex. In men, it is estimated that 10-25% of the circulating DHEA is secreted by the testes. (1) DHEA and its sulfated analog DHEA-S serve primarily as precursors that circulate to peripheral tissues, where they are converted to androgens and estrogens. (1,2) This allows androgens and estrogens to be delivered to the appropriate tissues without leakage of significant amounts into the circulation. (3,4,5) In addition to serving as a precursor for other steroid hormones, DHEA is also believed to have some physiological properties of its own. It is known to have anti-glucocorticoid, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects. (1,5) The mechanisms of these effects are not well understood and currently under investigation. (5,6,7) Circulating levels of DHEA peak around the age of 20 to 30, then decline to only 20-30% of peak level by the age of 70 to 80; it has been explored as a marker of aging and for possible anti-aging therapeutic uses.
Low levels have been associated with a range of diseases. (1,5) DHEA is also produced in the brain, where is serves as a protective neurosteroid. (8,9)
Like cortisol, DHEA synthesis in the adrenal gland is affected by HPA axis activity and the release of ACTH, and DHEA levels increase in response to stress. (10) Differences in the secretion of the two hormones can exist, however, and changes in the ratio of cortisol to DHEA have been observed in connection with various disorders, including depression, psychiatric conditions, and HIV infection. (11,12,13,14) DHEA exhibits a diurnal rhythm synchronized with cortisol, with highest values in the morning and a nadir in the late evening. (15)
In blood DHEA is only weakly bound to albumin or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). (16,17) Unbound DHEA enters saliva from blood via intracellular mechanisms, and the serum-saliva correlation is high. (18,19)
- Kroboth, P.D., Salek, F.S., Pittenger, A.L., et al. (1999). DHEA and DHEA-S: A review. J Clin Pharmacol, 39(4), 327-48.
- Labrie, F. (2010). DHEA, important source of sex steroids in men and even more in women. Prog Brain Res, 182, 97-148.
- Labrie, F., Bélanger, A., Cusan, L., Candas, B. (1997). Physiological changes in dehydroepiandrosterone are not reflected by serum levels of active androgens and estrogens but of their metabolites: Intracrinology. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 82(8), 2403-9.
- Labrie, F., Luu-The, V. Bélanger, A., et al. (2005). Is dehydroepiandrosterone a hormone? J Endocrinol, 187, 169-96.
- Maninger, N., Wolkowitz, O.M., Reus, V.I., et al. (2009). Neurobiological and neuropsychiatric effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS). Front Neuroendocrinol, 30(1), 65-91.
- Dillon, J.S. (2005). Dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and related steroids: Their role in inflammatory, allergic and immunological disorders. Curr Drug Targets Infl Allergy, 4(3), 377-85.
- Widstrom, R., Dillon, J.S. (2004). Is there a receptor for dehydroepiandrosterone or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate? Semin Repro Med, 22(4), 289-98.
- Baulieu, E.-E., Robel, P. (1998). Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA) as neuroactive neurosteroids. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 95(8), 4089-91.
- Charalampopoulos, I., Alexaki, V.-I., Tsatsanis, C., et al. (2006). Neurosteroids as endogenous inhibitors of neuronal cell apoptosis in aging. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1088, 139-52.
- Izawa, S. Sugaya, N., Shirotsuki, K., et al. (2008). Salivary dehydroepiandrosterone secretion in response to acute psychosocial stress and its correlations with biological and psychological changes. Biol Psych, 79(3), 294-98.
- Goodyer, I.M., Herbert, J., Altham, P.M., et al. (1996). Adrenal secretion during major depression in 8- to 16-year-olds, I. Altered diurnal rhythms in salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) at presentation. Psychol Med, 26(2), 245-56.
- Young, A.H., Gallagher, P., Porter, R. (2002). Elevation of the cortisol-dehydroepiandrosterone ratio in drug-free depressed patients. Am J Psychiatry, 159(7), 1237-39.
- Harris, D.S., Wolkowitz, O.M., Reus, V.I. (2001). Movement disorder, memory, psychiatric symptoms and serum DHEA levels in schizophrienic and schizoaffective patients. World J Biol Psychiatry, 2(2), 99-102.
- Christeff, N., Gherbi, N., Mammes, O., et al. (1997). Serum cortisol and DHEA concentrations during HIV infection. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 22 (Suppl. 1), S11-18.
- Rosenfeld, R.S., Rosenberg, B.J., Fukushima, D.K., Hellman, L. (1975). 24-Hour secretory pattern of dehydroisoandrosterone and dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 40(5), 850-5.
- Longcope, C. (1995). Metabolism of dehydroepiandrosterone. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 774, 143-48.
- Simon, J.A. (2002). Estrogen replacement therapy: Effect on the endogenous androgen milieu. Fertil Steril, 77 (Suppl 4), S77-82.)
- Vining, R.F., McGinley, R.A., Symons, R.G. (1983). Hormones in saliva: Mode of entry and consequent implications for clinical interpretation. Clin Chem, 29(10), 1752-56.
- Shirtcliff, E.A., Granger, D.A., Schwartz, E., Curran, M.J. (2001). Use of salivary biomarkers in biobehavioral research: Cotton-based sample collection methods can interfere with salivary immunoassay results. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 26(2), 165-73.)
*In addition to the volume recommended for each analyte, we recommend collecting an additional 300 μL to allow for liquid handling loss and possible repeat tests (500 µl recommended for TNF-α).
Salimetrics Products and Services for DHEA