Nebulized dehydroepiandrosterone-3-sulfate improves asthma control in the moderate-to-severe asthma results of a 6-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Allergy Asthma Proc. Nov-Dec 2010;31(6):461-71. doi: 10.2500/aap.2010.31.3384.


Inhaled dehydroepiandrosterone-3-sulfate (DHEAS), but not dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), possesses anti-inflammatory activity in in vitro assays and in models of allergen and lipopolysaccharide challenges. We postulated whether an inhaled suspension of DHEAS delivered via nebulizer would improve asthma control in moderate-to-severe asthma patients. We also characterized the safety profile of an inhaled suspension of DHEAS. Patients receiving at least 500 μg of fluticasone equivalent plus long-acting beta-agonists (LABA) entered a 5-week run-in where the dose of inhaled corticosteroids was reduced to 200 μg of fluticasone plus LABA per day. Patients were randomized to 70 mg of DHEAS or placebo if their Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) score was ≥2.0 and their FEV(1) ≥ 50%. When compared with control, a statistically significant improvement in ACQ in 6 weeks of treatment with 70 mg of DHEAS was observed. The median improvement in ACQ was -0.72 and -0.43 for the active and placebo groups, respectively (p = 0.0389); the percentage of patients with at least minimally clinically important difference of -0.50 from baseline was significantly greater in the DHEAS group versus the placebo, (59.4% versus 45.7%; p = 0.0236). Asthma symptom scores, the proportion of symptom-free days and symptom nights, although not statistically significant, had positive trends supporting the improvement in ACQ. Fewer patients were withdrawn from the study for respiratory events on DHEAS compared with placebo. There were few adverse events and no changes in sex hormones despite increases in circulating levels of DHEAS. An inhaled suspension of DHEAS delivered via nebulizer improved asthma control scores in subjects with poorly controlled moderate-to-severe asthma. AUSTRALIAN NEW ZEALAND CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRY ANZCTR.ORG.AU IDENTIFIER: 012607000192482.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Androstadienes / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / adverse effects
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / administration & dosage*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluticasone
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Androstadienes
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Fluticasone