DHEA could raise risk of heart disease

Related tags Heart disease Dhea Atherosclerosis Endothelium

Taking DHEA supplements could increase the risk of heart disease,
according to new research from Australia, which shows that the
hormone leads to build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.

The findings contrast with a small study reported in July that found a low dose of DHEA to improve vascular endothelial function, or artery flexibility, as well as insulin sensitivity.

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a prohormone naturally made by the adrenal glands and converted to other steroid hormones. As levels of the substance decrease with age, it is taken by some to help combat age-related disease, including heart disease and Alzheimer's.

The researchers examined the effect of DHEA on two key early events that lead to arteriosclerosis - human monocyte adhesion to vascular endothelium and human foam cell formation - in a lab study.

Writing in the latest issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology​ (vol 42, issue 11, pp1967-1974), they report that the substance increased human macrophage foam cell formation, a potentially pro-atherogenic effect.

"This effect appears to be mediated via the androgen receptor and involves the upregulation of lipoprotein-processing enzymes,"​ write the researchers.

In April, another team of researchers reported that DHEA supplements did not improve memory or reduce severity of Alzheimer's disease after six months of treatment.

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