Controlled studies of adrenal steroids in premenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have revealed subtle and inconsistent decreases in glucocorticosteroid (GCS) function, but prominent deficiencies of adrenal androgens (AA). Such findings have suggested that hypoandrogenicity may predispose to RA in younger women. However, recent prospective studies of serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels before (x̄ = 12 yrs) the onset of the disease (pre-RA) offer an alternative perspective. Significant dissociation of serum cortisol and DHEAS levels was found only in the subgroup of premenopausal women who developed RA before age 50. This subgroup alone had significant deficiency in serum DHEAS levels. Aggregate data imply that the documented deficits of DHEAS (and other AA) in such young females are a correlate of relative adrenal insufficiency, and that subtle GCS dysfunction may either contribute to development of RA in such young women as well as pubertal girls or may predispose to earlier onset of disease.
- Adrenal androgens
- HPA axis function
- Premenopausal women
- Rheumatoid arthritis in juveniles
ASJC Scopus subject areas