Hormones in Aging Males

Long-term low-dose dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy in aging males with partial androgen deficiency.

Genazzani AR1Inglese SLombardi IPieri MBernardi FGenazzani ADRovati LLuisi M.


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) age-related withdrawal is very likely to be involved in the aging process and the onset of age-related diseases, giving rise to the question of whether preventing or compensating the decline of these steroids may have endocrine and clinical benefits.

The aim of the present trial was to evaluate the endocrine, neuroendocrine and clinical consequences of a long-term (1 year), low-dose (25 mg/day) replacement therapy in a group of aging men who presented the clinical characteristics of partial androgen deficiency (PADAM).

  1. Circulating DHEA, 
  2. DHEAS, 
  3. androstenedione, 
  4. total testosterone and
  5. free testosterone, 
  6. dihydrotestosterone (DHT),
  7. progesterone, 
  8. 17-hydroxy-progesterone, 
  9. allo-pregnanolone, 
  10. estrone, 
  11. estradiol, 
  12. sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), 
  13. cortisol, 
  14. follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), 
  15. luteinizing hormone (LH), 
  16. growth hormone (GH) and 
  17. insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels 
  18. were evaluated monthly to assess the endocrine effects of the therapy, while beta-endorphin values were used as a marker of the neuroendocrine effects.

A Kupperman questionnaire was performed to evaluate the subjective symptoms before and after treatment.

The results showed a great modification of the endocrine profile;

  1. with the exception of cortisol levels, which remained unchanged, 
  2. DHEA, 
  3. DHEAS, 
  4. androstenedione, 
  5. total and 
  6. free testosterone,
  7. DHT, [Needs Beta sito sterol]
  8. progesterone, 
  9. 17-hydroxyprogesterone, 
  10. estrone,  [Need DIM]
  11. estradiol, [Need DIM]
  12. GH, 
  13. IGF-1 and 
  14. beta-endorphin 
  15. all levels increased significantly with respect to baseline values, 
  16. while FSH, LH and SHBG levels showed a significant decrease.

The Kupperman score indicated a progressive improvement in mood, fatigue and joint pain.

In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that 25 mg/day of DHEA is able to cause significant changes in the hormonal profile and clinical symptoms and can counteract the age-related decline of endocrine and neuroendocrine functions.

Restoring DHEA levels to young adult values seems to benefit the age-related decline in physiological functions but, however promising, placebo-controlled trials are required to confirm these preliminary results.