An open study of dehydroepiandrosterone in systemic lupus erythematosus

Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Sep;37(9):1305-10. doi: 10.1002/art.1780370906.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androgens / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / adverse effects
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteinuria / drug therapy


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Androgens
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone