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Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and testosterone: relation to HIV illness stage and progression over one year


Ferrando SJ




J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr


This study explored associations between serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), free and total testosterone levels, and HIV illness markers, including viral load, and the behavioral problems of fatigue and depressed mood. Subjects were 169 HIV-positive men evaluated at baseline, 6, and 12 months for levels of DHEAS, total and free testosterone, HIV RNA, CD4, HIV symptoms, opportunistic illnesses, fatigue, and depression. Men with AIDS (N = 105), compared with men with less advanced illness, had lower mean levels of DHEAS. Baseline DHEAS was positively correlated with CD4 count, HIV symptom severity, and was inversely correlated with HIV RNA. Baseline DHEAS below the laboratory reference range (96 microg/dl) was associated with history of opportunistic infections and malignancies (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 4.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-10.4) and with incidence of these complications or death over 1 year (adjusted OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1-7.2). Initiating protease inhibitor combination therapy was associated with an increase in DHEAS over 6 months. Free testosterone was inversely correlated with HIV RNA, but there were no other significant associations between testosterone and HIV illness markers. No hormone was related to fatigue or depression. This study confirms that low serum DHEAS is associated with HIV illness markers, including viral load, and carries negative prognostic value. Further, protease inhibitor therapy may result in increased circulating DHEAS.

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