Researchers at the University Hospital in Uppsala report that women with Sjogren's syndrome have substantially lower blood levels of DHEA-S than do healthy women. Like systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects females. It is characterized by fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, and dryness of the mouth. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and its active metabolite DHEA-S (DHEA sulfate) are hormones primarily formed in the adrenal cortex; they serve as precursors for both male and female sex hormones. Their investigation involved 10 women with Sjogren's syndrome (average age of 54 years) and 10 healthy controls (average age of 53 years). The women in the Sjogren's group had an average DHEA-S level of 2.4 micromol/L as compared to 3.9 micromol/L in the control group. The average cortisol/DHEA-S ratio in the Sjogren's group was 171 as compared to 76 in the control group. The researchers believe that their results indicate that women with Sjogren's syndrome may suffer from adrenal exhaustion (hypofunction) and speculate that DHEA supplementation may be beneficial for them. They also point out that several other studies have found that women with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus have abnormally low DHEA-S levels.
Valtysdottir, Sigridurt T., et al. Low serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in women with primary Sjogren's syndrome as an isolated sign on impaired HPA axis function. Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 28, June 2001, pp. 1259-65