Adrenal androgens dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA; prasterone) and its sulphated form (DHEA-S) are among the most abundant hormonal steroids in men and nonpregnant women. Deficiencies of these adrenal androgens are associated with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent studies from our laboratory have also identified low levels of adrenal androgens in the serum and synovial fluid of patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). These findings support and complement those already published for RA and other autoimmune diseases. Because of the paucity of data on the hormonal status of patients with JRA, studies on the relationship between hypoandrogenicity and predisposition to develop JRA, and/or disease progression have not been conducted. In addition, despite the rapid expansion of research in the clinical use of these adrenal androgens in hyperlipidaemia, atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance and hypertension, their potentiai beneficial effects in JRA/RA have not been fully investigated. In fact, clinical trials of adrenal androgens in RA have only been conducted for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. Further studies using prospective approaches are necessary to provide a unified consensus on the hormonal status of patients with JRA (as well as those with RA). This overview of our knowledge of the putative role(s) of hormones in arthritis will hopefully stimulate researchers in basic science and rheumatologists to synergistically collaborate in the effective translation of such knowledge to new clinical approaches.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)