Background: Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is thought to be associated with life expectancy and anti-aging. However, its biological significance in atherosclerosis remains controversial. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether DHEAS is associated with development of carotid atherosclerosis in subjects with cardiovascular risk factors.
Subjects and methods: A total of 419 Japanese individuals (208 males and 211 females) were recruited from Tokushima University Hospital, Japan. In all subjects, maximum intima-media thickness (max-IMT) in all carotid arteries, and mean-IMT and mean blood flow volume (BFV) in the common carotid arteries (CCA) were measured by ultrasonography; endothelial function was assessed by flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery (%FMD). Serum DHEAS and classical cardiovascular risk factors were also evaluated. Statistical significance was determined by multiple regression analysis to elucidate independent determinants of max-IMT, mean-IMT, mean CCA-BFV, and %FMD.
Results: Serum DHEAS levels were higher in males than in females. Multiple regression analysis revealed that DHEAS was an independent negative factor for both max-IMT and mean-IMT in males but not in females. In contrast, DHEAS was the sole positive factor for mean CCA-BFV in females but not in males. In addition, there was no significant relationship between %FMD and DHEAS regardless of sex and other confounding factors.
Conclusion: Although DHEAS is not involved in endothelial function, DHEAS is inversely associated with sex-dependent diverse carotid atherosclerosis such as increased max-IMT and mean-IMT in males and decreased CCA-BFV in females.
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