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Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 1389-5575
ISSN (Online): 1875-5607

Mini-Review Article

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): Pharmacological Effects and Potential Therapeutic Application

Author(s): Nemanja Nenezic, Smiljana Kostic, Dubravka Svob Strac, Marija Grunauer, Dragana Nenezic, Milica Radosavljevic, Jasna Jancic and Janko Samardzic*

Volume 23, Issue 8, 2023

Published on: 20 October, 2022

Page: [941 - 952] Pages: 12

DOI: 10.2174/1389557522666220919125817

Price: $65


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone in primates, which is predominantly synthesized in the adrenal cortex. A characteristic curve of growth and decline of its synthesis during life was observed, together with the corresponding formation of its sulphate ester (DHEAS). High levels of plasma circulating DHEA are suggested as a marker of human longevity, and various pathophysiological conditions lead to a decreased DHEA level, including adrenal insufficiency, severe systemic diseases, acute stress, and anorexia. More recent studies have established the importance of DHEA in the central nervous system (CNS). A specific intranuclear receptor for DHEA has not yet been identified; however, highly specific membrane receptors have been detected in endothelial cells, the heart, kidney, liver, and the brain. Research shows that DHEA and DHEAS, as well as their metabolites, have a wide range of effects on numerous organs and organ systems, which places them in the group of potential pharmacological agents useful in various clinical entities. Their action as neurosteroids is especially interesting due to potential neuroprotective, pro-cognitive, anxiolytic, and antidepressant effects. Evidence from clinical studies supports the use of DHEA in hypoadrenal individuals and in treating depression and associated cognitive disorders. However, there is also an increasing trend of recreational DHEA misuse in healthy people, as it is classified as a dietary supplement in some countries. This article aims to provide a critical review regarding the biological and pharmacological effects of DHEA, its mechanism of action, and potential therapeutic use, especially in CNS disorders.

Keywords: Dehydroepiandrosterone, biosynthesis, pharmacology, neurosteroid, supplementation, therapy.

Graphical Abstract
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