Dehydroepiandrosterone potentiates the effect of vitamin D on thyroid autoimmunity in euthyroid women with autoimmune thyroiditis: A pilot study

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2021 Feb;48(2):195-202. doi: 10.1111/1440-1681.13410. Epub 2020 Oct 16.


The impact of androgens on the thyroid in women is poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether vitamin D/dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) combination therapy is superior to vitamin D alone in affecting thyroid autoimmunity and hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis activity in young women with autoimmune thyroid disease. The study included 35 euthyroid women with untreated Hashimoto's thyroiditis and reduced sexual drive, allocated to one of two treatment groups. The first group (n = 19) received both vitamin D and DHEA, while the second (n = 16) was treated with only vitamin D. Serum thyroid antibody titres and concentrations of thyrotropin, free thyroid hormones, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S), 25-hydroxyvitamin D, testosterone and estradiol were measured at baseline and 6 months later. Vitamin D administered alone or in combination with DHEA decreased serum titres of thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies, which correlated with baseline antibody titres, baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and treatment-induced increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Apart from a stronger effect on antibody titres, vitamin D/DHEA combination therapy slightly decreased thyrotropin levels, as well as increased DHEA-S and testosterone levels. In this group of women, treatment-induced changes in antibody titres and thyrotropin levels correlated with the impact on DHEA-S and testosterone. The obtained results suggest that vitamin D/DHEA combination therapy may be a better treatment option for euthyroid women with Hashimoto's thyroiditis than vitamin D alone.

Keywords: adrenal androgens; cholecalciferol; hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis; thyroid autoimmunity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoimmunity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune*
  • Young Adult