Objectives: It was previously shown that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) reverses chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH) in rats, but whether DHEA can improve the clinical and hemodynamic status of patients with PH associated to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (PH-COPD) has not been studied whereas it is a very severe poorly treated disease.
Patients and methods: Eight patients with PH-COPD were treated with DHEA (200mg daily orally) for 3 months. The primary end-point was the change in the 6-minute walk test (6-MWT) distance. Secondary end-points included pulmonary hemodynamics, lung function tests and tolerance of treatment.
Results: The 6-MWT increased in all cases, from 333m (median [IQR]) (257; 378) to 390m (362; 440) (P<0.05). Mean pulmonary artery pressure decreased from 26mmHg (25; 27) to 21.5mmHg (20; 25) (P<0.05) and pulmonary vascular resistance from 4.2UI (3.5; 4.4) to 2.6UI (2.5; 3.8) (P<0.05). The carbon monoxide diffusing capacity of the lung (DLCO % predicted) increased significantly from 27.4% (20.1; 29.3) to 36.4% (14.6; 39.6) (P<0.05). DHEA treatment did not change respiratory parameters of gas exchange and the 200mg per day of DHEA used was perfectly tolerated with no side effect reported.
Conclusion: DHEA treatment significantly improves 6-MWT distance, pulmonary hemodynamics and DLCO of patients with PH-COPD, without worsening gas exchange, as do other pharmacological treatments of PH (trial registration NCT00581087).
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