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Endocrine mechanisms of stress-induced DHEA-secretion


Acute psychological stress of a first time parachute jump stimulated DHEA and cortisol secretion in healthy volunteers. A significant shift from cortisol to DHEA occurred during this stress exposure. This effect was more pronounced in subjects receiving the β-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol prior to the jump. In contrast, infusion of epinephrine (0.10 µ/kg/min) or norepinephrine (0.15 µg/kg/min) for 20 min neither affected DHEA plasma levels nor the DHEA/cortisol ratio. However, pretreatment with propranolol resulted in a significant increase of the DHEA/cortisol ratio upon infusion of the β-adrenoceptor agonist epinephrine. These data demonstrate that during acute psychological stress stimulation of adrenal steroid release is accompanied by a shift towards DHEA. Augmentation of this effect by β-adrenoceptor blockade indicates a β-adrenoceptor-dependent mechanism affecting DHEA release.

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Correspondence to Manfred Schedlowski Ph.D..

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Oberbeck, R., Benschop, R.J., Jacobs, R. et al. Endocrine mechanisms of stress-induced DHEA-secretion. J Endocrinol Invest 21, 148–153 (1998).

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  • DHEA
  • cortisol
  • epinephrine
  • norepinephrine
  • stress