Hyperglycaemia acutely decreases circulating dehydroepiandrosterone levels in healthy men

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2006 Jan;64(1):46-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2005.02414.x.


Objective: This study was conducted in order to evaluate the effect of glucose-insulin homeostasis on adrenal steroids and was designed to separate the effects of hyperglycaemia from those of insulin.

Design: Eight healthy men aged 22.6 +/- 3.4 (SD) underwent an 80 mU/m2/min hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic 100-min clamp, a 200-min graded glucose infusion at 2-16 mg/kg/min and a measurement of fat mass.

Measurements: Circulating glucose, insulin and adrenal steroid levels including dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were determined before and during both infusion tests. Steroid variations in relation to insulinaemia and glycaemia were analysed using univariate, multivariate tests and nonlinear mixed models.

Results: Hyperinsulinaemia induced no significant modification of adrenal steroid levels. By contrast, hyperglycaemia decreased all adrenal steroids except DHEA-sulphate by 47-66%. The drop occurred early, averaging 51% for 17OH pregnenolone and 57% for DHEA at the 80th minute of glucose infusion, whereas blood glucose was 7.1 +/- 1.2 mmol/1. This effect was independent of insulinaemia, fat mass and waist circumference. Thus, we estimated models that could best predict steroid variations according to blood glucose. At thresholds defining impaired fasting glycaemia and diabetes, the estimated decrease in DHEA was 40% and 45%, respectively, culminating at 60% at 9.3 mmol/1 glycaemia, with no detectable further decrease.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that hyperglycaemia dramatically decreases adrenal androgen levels in men, possibly by acting at early steps of synthesis, independently of insulinaemia and fat mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 17-alpha-Hydroxypregnenolone / blood
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Androgens / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Composition
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Androgens
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxypregnenolone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate