Lower serum DHEAS levels are associated with a higher degree of physical disability and depressive symptoms in middle-aged to older African American women

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Maturitas (Impact Factor: 2.94). 09/2007; 57(4):347-60. DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2007.03.003
Source: PubMed


Changes in androgen levels and associations with chronic disease, physical and neuropsychological function and disability in women over the middle to later years of life are not well understood and have not been extensively studied in African American women.
The present cross-sectional analysis reports such levels and associations in community dwelling, African American women aged 49-65 years from St. Louis, Missouri.
A home-based physical examination and a health status questionnaire were administered to randomly sampled women. Body composition (DEXA), lower limb and hand-grip muscle strength, physical and neuropsychological function and disability levels were assessed. Blood was drawn and assayed for total testosterone (T), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS), oestradiol (E2), adiponectin, leptin, triglycerides, glucose, C-reactive protein (CRP) and cytokine receptors (sIL2r, sIL6r, sTNFr1 and sTNFr2). Multiple linear regression modelling was used to identify the best predictors of testosterone, DHEAS and free androgen index (T/SHBG).
Seventy-four percent of women were menopausal and a quarter of these were taking oestrogen therapy. DHEAS and E2 declined between the ages of 49 and 65 years, whereas total T, SHBG and FAI remained stable. Total T and DHEAS levels were strongly correlated. In this population sample there were no independent associations of either total T or FAI with indicators of functional limitations, disability or clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Unlike total T and FAI, lower DHEAS levels were independently associated with both higher IADL scores (indicating a higher degree of physical disability) and higher CESD scores (indicating a higher degree of clinically relevant depressive symptoms).
There is an age-related decline in serum DHEAS in African American women. Lower DHEAS levels appear to be associated with a higher degree of physical disability and depressive symptoms in this population.

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