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      Neurobiological and neuropsychiatric effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS).

      Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology
      Adult, Aged, Aging, Animals, Antioxidants, pharmacology, Brain, drug effects, metabolism, Dehydroepiandrosterone, physiology, therapeutic use, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Dementia, drug therapy, Depression, Female, Humans, Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain, Male, Middle Aged, Neuroprotective Agents, Schizophrenia, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic

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          Abstract

          DHEA and DHEAS are steroids synthesized in human adrenals, but their function is unclear. In addition to adrenal synthesis, evidence also indicates that DHEA and DHEAS are synthesized in the brain, further suggesting a role of these hormones in brain function and development. Despite intensifying research into the biology of DHEA and DHEAS, many questions concerning their mechanisms of action and their potential involvement in neuropsychiatric illnesses remain unanswered. We review and distill the preclinical and clinical data on DHEA and DHEAS, focusing on (i) biological actions and putative mechanisms of action, (ii) differences in endogenous circulating concentrations in normal subjects and patients with neuropsychiatric diseases, and (iii) the therapeutic potential of DHEA in treating these conditions. Biological actions of DHEA and DHEAS include neuroprotection, neurite growth, and antagonistic effects on oxidants and glucocorticoids. Accumulating data suggest abnormal DHEA and/or DHEAS concentrations in several neuropsychiatric conditions. The evidence that DHEA and DHEAS may be fruitful targets for pharmacotherapy in some conditions is reviewed.

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