Antidiabetic characteristics of dehydroepiandrosterone in animal and human studies

  • Margot P. Cleary
Part of the Rev.Ser.Advs.Research Diab.Animals (Birkhäuser) book series (RSARDA, volume 6)


Interest in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) as a metabolic factor involved with diabetes in relation to obesity dates back to a study published by Šonka and coworkers1 30 years ago. They reported that no DHEA was detected in the urine of 27 of 32 elderly obese diabetic subjects. This and other studies led Šonka2 to the speculation that DHEA, a 17-ketosteroid produced in the adrenal gland, may have important regulatory functions in the body. Since these early observations were made, ameliorative effects resulting from the administration of DHEA were obtained in numerous studies. Most studies have used mice and rats, but additional work has been presented in dogs, monkeys, rabbits, and humans. An array of effects was attributed to DHEA treatment, including prevention of cancer, aging, obesity, viral diseases, and atherosclerosis.3–6 Following in Šonka’s path there have also been further investigations into the role of DHEA as an antidiabetic agent. My overview of the literature is pertinent to this potential characteristic of DHEA.

Key words

obesity insulin glucose tolerance insulin resistance mice rats humans 


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© Birkhäuser Boston 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margot P. Cleary
    • 1
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hormel InstituteUniversity of MinnesotaAustinUSA

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