Low serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in women with primary Sjögren's syndrome as an isolated sign of impaired HPA axis function

J Rheumatol. 2001 Jun;28(6):1259-65.


Objective: To assess the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and thyroid axes in women with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS).

Methods: In 10 women with pSS and 10 age matched female controls, we evaluated serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), testosterone, androstenedione, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin, growth hormone, sex hormone binding globulin, cortisol, and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), in both basal condition and after stimulation with corticotropin releasing hormone, thyrotropin releasing hormone, and luteinizing hormone releasing hormone intravenously. Patients had not previously been treated with glucocorticoids.

Results: Patients with pSS had significantly lower basal mean DHEA-S values compared with healthy controls (2.4 +/- 0.4 vs 3.9 +/- 0.3 mumol/l; p < 0.05) and significantly lower DHEA-S values after stimulation. The cortisol/DHEA-S ratio in the patient group was higher than in controls (171 +/- 39 vs 76 +/- 5; p < 0.05). A correlation was found between basal ACTH and DHEA-S values in the patients (r = 0.650; p = 0.05). No correlation was seen between disease activity or age and the serum concentration of DHEA-S. The levels of other hormones both at baseline and after stimulation were similar in patients and controls.

Conclusion: The results show that women with pSS have intact cortisol synthesis but decreased serum concentrations of DHEA-S and increased cortisol/DHEA-S ratio compared with healthy controls. The findings may reflect a constitutional or disease mediated influence on adrenal steroid synthesis. The thyroid axis and gonadotropin secretion were similar in patients and controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / blood*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone