Objective: To determine if dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has clinical benefits in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Ten female patients with mild to moderate SLE and various disease manifestations were given DHEA (200 mg/day orally) for 3-6 months. The patients were given other medications as clinically indicated, and followed with respect to overall disease activity and specific outcome parameters.
Results: After 3-6 months of DHEA treatment, indices for overall SLE activity including the SLEDAI (SLE Disease Activity Index) score and physician's overall assessment were improved, and corticosteroid requirements were decreased. Of 3 patients with significant proteinuria, 2 showed marked and 1 modest reductions in protein excretion. DHEA was well tolerated, the only frequently noted side effect being mild acneiform dermatitis.
Conclusion: DHEA shows promise as a new therapeutic agent for the treatment of mild to moderate SLE. Further studies of DHEA in the treatment of SLE are warranted.