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Circulation. 1992 Nov;86(5):1529-35. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.86.5.1529.

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, incidence of myocardial infarction, and extent of atherosclerosis in men.


A Z LaCroix, K Yano, D M Reed


  1. Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle.

PMID: 1423966 DOI: 10.1161/01.cir.86.5.1529


BACKGROUND: Antiatherogenic effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) have been suspected for more than 30 years, yet the available evidence to support or refute such effects in humans is inconclusive. The hypothesis has not been adequately tested in large-scale epidemiological studies.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The present study used a cohort of men initially free of clinically detectable coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer to compare DHEAS levels measured in sera obtained in 1968-1971 between 238 cases who had definite coronary heart disease during the subsequent 18 years and 476 age-matched controls who survived the follow-up period and remained free of clinically detectable coronary heart disease. In a separate study, the relation of DHEAS levels to extent of atherosclerosis was examined among 82 cohort men who died during the follow-up period and had protocol autopsies. Age-adjusted DHEAS levels were lower among fatal cases of coronary heart disease than among controls (94.7 versus 106.9 micrograms/dl, respectively; p < 0.05). After adjustment for eight coronary risk factors, the odds ratio for fatal coronary heart disease comparing a 100-micrograms/dl difference in DHEAS level was 0.46 (95% confidence intervals, 0.19-1.07). In contrast, age-adjusted DHEAS levels did not significantly differ between nonfatal cases of myocardial infarction and controls (107.2 versus 106.9 micrograms/dl, respectively). Furthermore, DHEAS levels were not related to extent of atherosclerosis at autopsy.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings do not support a role of DHEAS in the development of nonfatal myocardial infarction or the progression of atherosclerosis. The association of DHEAS with fatal coronary heart disease and possibly with death from all causes merits further investigation. These findings suggest continued skepticism that DHEAS has an important role in coronary disease etiology or prevention.

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