Context: Patients with panhypopituitarism have impaired quality of life (QoL) despite GH replacement. They are profoundly androgen deficient, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been shown to have a beneficial effect on well-being and mood in patients with adrenal failure and possibly in hypopituitarism.
Objective: Our objective was to determine the effect of DHEA administration on mood in hypopituitary adults on established GH replacement with a constant serum IGF-I.
Design: A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted over an initial 6 months followed by an open phase of 6 months of DHEA.
Setting: The study was conducted at a tertiary referral endocrinology unit.
Patients: Thirty female and 21 male hypopituitary patients enrolled. Data from 26 females and 18 males were analyzed after patient withdrawal.
Interventions: DHEA (50 mg) was added to maintenance replacement including GH.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome objective was the effect on QoL and libido assessed by QoL assessment in GH deficiency in adults, Short Form 36, General Health Questionnaire, EuroQol, and sexual self-efficacy scale.
Results: Patients had impaired QoL at baseline compared with the age-matched British population. Females showed improvement in QoL assessment in GH deficiency in adults score (-2.9 +/- 2.8 DHEA vs.-0.53 +/- 3 placebo; P < 0.05), in Short Form 36 social functioning (14.6 +/- 23.1 DHEA vs.-4.7 +/- 25 placebo; P = 0.047), and general health perception (9.6 +/- 14.2 DHEA vs.-1.2 +/- 11.6 placebo; P = 0.036) after 6 months of DHEA. Men showed improvement in self-esteem (-1.3 +/- 1.7 DHEA vs. 0.5 +/- 1.5 placebo; P = 0.03) and depression (-1.6 +/- 2.2 DHEA vs. 1.2 +/- 2.4 placebo, P = 0.02) domains of the General Health Questionnaire after 6 months of DHEA.
Conclusions: DHEA replacement leads to modest improvement in psychological well-being in female and minor psychological improvement in male hypopituitary patients on GH replacement.