Dehydroepiandrosterone (Molecule of the Month for April 2008)
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a natural steroid prohormone produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, the gonads, adipose tissue, brain and in the skin (by an autocrine mechanism). DHEA is the precursor of androstenedione, which can undergo further conversion to produce the androgen testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol. Regular exercise is known to increase DHEA production in the body
DHEA supplements are sometimes used as muscle-building or performance-enhancing drugs by athletes. However, a randomized placebo-controlled trial found that DHEA supplementation had no effect on lean body mass, strength, or testosterone levels.
In the United States, dietary supplements containing DHEA or DHEAS have been advertised with claims that they may be beneficial for a wide variety of ailments. DHEA and DHEAS are readily available in the United States, where they are regulated as foods rather than as medications. Because DHEA is converted to androstenedione and then testosterone, it has two chances to aromatize into estrogen- estrone from androstenedione, and estradiol from testosterone. As such, it increases estrogen levels more than testosterone in men.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for April 2008 )