Dehydroepiandrosterone boosts QoL of premenopausal RA patients

21 Oct 2020

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation confers benefits for quality of life (QoL) but not for disease activity relative to placebo in premenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a study has found.

Forty-six patients were randomized to receive 50 mg/day DHEA (n=23) or placebo (n=23) for 12 weeks. Those in the active treatment group were slightly younger (mean age, 34.8 vs 38.4 years), had shorter disease duration (mean, 4.67 vs 6.91 months), slightly lower DHEA levels (mean, 3.78 vs 4.47 µg/mL), and lower prednisolone use (mean, 3.5 vs 4.6 mg/day), although the differences were not significant.

At the end of treatment, the DHEA group showed greater improvements in QoL (measured using the World Health Organization Quality of Life Brief version questionnaire; p=0.025) and environment health (p=0.001) than the placebo group.

In an analysis controlled for age and disease duration, DHEA was still associated with more favourable changes in QoL (p=0.01), as well as in psychological (p=0.02) and physical health (p=0.03).

Disease Activity Score of 28 joints score decreased with DHEA and placebo, but there was no significant between-group difference observed (p=0.88). Meanwhile, there was a trend toward reduced erythrocyte sedimentation rate in the DHEA group (p=0.06).

Adverse events were minor and occurred with similar frequency in the DHEA and placebo groups. These included epigastric pain (4 percent and 13 percent), menstruation disorder (9 percent in both), headache (4 percent vs 0 percent), spotting (0 percent vs 9 percent), hair loss (0 percent vs 13 percent), and aggressive behaviour (17 percent vs 13 percent).

DHEA is said to influence brain function and some features of human emotions and behaviour, with positive effects on memory and mood.

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