Blood and tissue dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate levels and their relationship to chronic inflammatory bowel disease


de la Torre B




Clin Exp Rheumatol


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) in the blood and tissues of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). METHODS: DHEAS levels were measured by radioimmunoassay in blood from 112 patients with IBD: 46 with ulcerative colitis (UC) and 66 with Crohn's disease. The levels were compared with those in 80 healthy controls. In addition, DHEAS concentrations were measured in gut tissue from 40 patients (28 patients with IBD and 12 with other bowel disorders) who had undergone gut surgery. Correlation analyses were carried out between the blood and tissue levels of DHEAS. RESULTS: The mean levels of DHEAS in the blood were markedly lower in the two patient groups (1350 nmol/l in UC and 1850 nmol/l in Crohn's disease vs. 3300 nmol/l in controls; p < 0.001 and p < 0.01 respectively). A diminution below the confidence limits of the controls (< 2500 nmol/l) was found in 37 (79%) of the patients with UC and in 49 (74%) of those with Crohn's disease. The remainder had DHEAS levels within the normal range (> 2500 nmol/l). The overall mean DHEAS concentration in gut tissue was 226 nmol/kg. A significant correlation was found between levels in the blood and those in tissues (correlation coefficient = 0.469; p < 0.002). CONCLUSION: These data indicate that low blood DHEAS is a feature in a majority of patients with UC or Crohn's disease. The possibility that there is a functional relationship between low DHEAS levels and some of the pathophysiologic features of IBD needs to be investigated.