Effect of Acute DHEA Administration on Free Testosterone in Middle-Aged and Young Men Following High-Intensity Interval Training

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jul;113(7):1783-92. doi: 10.1007/s00421-013-2607-x. Epub 2013 Feb 17.

Abstract

With advancing age, plasma testosterone levels decline, with free testosterone levels declining more significantly than total testosterone. This fall is thought to underlie the development of physical and mental weakness that occurs with advancing age. In addition, vigorous exercise can also lower total and free testosterone levels with the decline greatest in physically untrained men. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of oral DHEA supplementation, a testosterone precursor, on free testosterone in sedentary middle-aged men during recovery from a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) bout of exercise. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study was conducted for 8 middle-aged participants (aged 49.3 ± 2.4 years) and an additional 8 young control participants (aged 21.4 ± 0.3 years). Each participant received DHEA (50 mg) and placebo on separate occasions one night (12 h) before a 5-session, 2-min cycling exercise (100% VO₂max). While no significant age difference in total testosterone was found, middle-aged participants exhibited significantly lower free testosterone and greater luteinizing hormone (LH) levels than the young control group. Oral DHEA supplementation increased circulating DHEA-S and free testosterone levels well above baseline in the middle-aged group, with no significant effect on total testosterone levels. Total testosterone and DHEA-S dropped significantly until 24 h after HIIT for both age groups, while free testosterone of DHEA-supplemented middle-aged men remained unaffected. These results demonstrate acute oral DHEA supplementation can elevate free testosterone levels in middle-aged men and prevent it from declining during HIIT. Therefore, DHEA supplementation may have significant benefits related to HIIT adaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone