Objective: To determine if dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is beneficial in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, 28 female patients with mild to moderate SLE were given DHEA 200 mg/day or placebo for 3 months. Outcomes included the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) score, patient's and physician's overall assessments of disease activity, and concurrent corticosteroid dosages (which were adjusted as clinically indicated).
Results: In the patients who were receiving DHEA, the SLEDAI score, patient's and physician's overall assessment of disease activity, and concurrent prednisone dosage decreased, while in the patients taking placebo, small increases were seen. The difference in patient's assessment between the groups was statistically significant (P = 0.022, adjusted). Lupus flares occurred more frequently in the placebo group (P = 0.053). Mild acne was a frequent side effect of DHEA.
Conclusion: DHEA may be useful as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of mild to moderate SLE. Further studies of DHEA in the treatment of SLE are warranted.