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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is one of the most abundant circulating steroids and is produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, where it functions as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids. Its production is controlled by ACTH and the majority of DHEA is secreted as 3-sulfoconjugate dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). In the circulation, DHEA and DHEAS are mainly bound to albumin, with a small amount bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Elevated DHEA/DHEAS levels caused by androgen-producing adrenal tumors can cause symptoms of hyperandrogenism in women. Men are usually asymptomatic, however peripheral conversion of androgens to estrogens can occasionally produce mild estrogen excess. In small children, excessive DHEA/DHEAS levels can be due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) caused by 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, 21-hydroxylase deficiency (the most common form of CAH), or 11 betahydroxylase deficiency. Serum DHEAS diagnostic assays are used to help evaluate adrenal gland function, to detect adrenal tumors or cancers, and to help determine the cause of masculine physical characteristics (virilization) in girls and women or early puberty in boys. The test may also be used with other hormone tests to rule out certain diseases of the testes or ovaries.

Diagnosis

Serum DHEAS diagnostic assays are used to help evaluate adrenal gland function, to detect adrenal tumors or cancers, and to help determine the cause of masculine physical characteristics (virilization) in girls and women or early puberty in boys. The test may also be used with other hormone tests to rule out certain diseases of the testes or ovaries.

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