Context: Recent studies disputed the widely promoted anti-aging effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation; however, conflicting data exist on whether physiological DHEA supplementation enhances exercise training effects on body composition, physical performance, and cardiometabolic risk in healthy postmenopausal women.
Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether 12 wk of DHEA supplementation (50 mg/d) in postmenopausal women enhances exercise-related changes in body composition, physical performance, and cardiometabolic risk.
Design and setting: This study was a 12-wk randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and took place at the Mayo Clinic General Clinical Research Center (Rochester, MN).
Participants: Thirty-one sedentary, postmenopausal, Caucasian women (mean +/- sem age 64.6 +/- 1.0 yr) completed the study.
Intervention: Participants were randomized to one of two 12-wk interventions: 1) exercise training plus 50 mg/d of DHEA (n = 17), or 2) exercise training plus placebo (n = 14). The exercise intervention consisted of both endurance (4 d/wk) and resistance (3 d/wk) exercise components.
Main outcome measures: The main outcomes were measures of body composition, physical performance, and measures of cardiometabolic risk.
Results: DHEA treatment with exercise resulted in increases in circulating sulfated DHEA (650%), total testosterone (100%), estradiol (165%), estrone (85%), and IGF-I (30%) (all P < or = 0.05, for all within and between treatment comparisons). Although exercise training alone significantly improved physical performance, body composition, and insulin sensitivity, administration of DHEA provided no additional benefits.
Conclusions: Twelve weeks of combined endurance and resistance training significantly improved body composition, physical performance, insulin sensitivity, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol particle number and size, whereas DHEA had no additional benefits.