Lack of dehydroepiandrosterone effect on a combined endurance and resistance exercise program in postmenopausal women

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Feb;93(2):534-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-1027. Epub 2007 Nov 20.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrone / blood
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Triglycerides
  • Estrone
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Cholesterol