Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its Sulphate (DHEAS) in Alzheimer's Disease

Curr Alzheimer Res. 2020;17(2):141-157. doi: 10.2174/1567205017666200317092310.


Background: Neurosteroids Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate (DHEAS) are involved in many important brain functions, including neuronal plasticity and survival, cognition and behavior, demonstrating preventive and therapeutic potential in different neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

Objective: The aim of the article was to provide a comprehensive overview of the literature on the involvement of DHEA and DHEAS in Alzheimer's disease.

Methods: PubMed and MEDLINE databases were searched for relevant literature. The articles were selected considering their titles and abstracts. In the selected full texts, lists of references were searched manually for additional articles.

Results: We performed a systematic review of the studies investigating the role of DHEA and DHEAS in various in vitro and animal models, as well as in patients with Alzheimer's disease, and provided a comprehensive discussion on their potential preventive and therapeutic applications.

Conclusion: Despite mixed results, the findings of various preclinical studies are generally supportive of the involvement of DHEA and DHEAS in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease, showing some promise for potential benefits of these neurosteroids in the prevention and treatment. However, so far small clinical trials brought little evidence to support their therapy in AD. Therefore, large-scale human studies are needed to elucidate the specific effects of DHEA and DHEAS and their mechanisms of action, prior to their applications in clinical practice.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Dehydroepiandrosterone; animal models; dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate; in vitro studies; patients; treatment..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / metabolism*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / physiology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate