The key difference between DHEA and DHEA-S is that DHEA is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, while DHEA-S is a neurosteroid and neurotrophin produced by the adrenal cortex.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) are two associated compounds. DHEA-S is a metabolite of DHEA. Both these compounds are steroids in a chemical nature. However, DHEA has hormonal activity, while DHEA-S is devoid of hormonal activity. Moreover, DHEA-S is a neurosteroid and neurotrophin important for the function of the neurons.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is DHEA
3. What is DHEA-S
4. Similarities – DHEA and DHEA-S
5. DHEA vs DHEA-S in Tabular Form
6. Summary – DHEA and DHEA-S
What is DHEA?
DHEA, also known as androstenolone, is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain. DHEA is also an endogenous steroid hormone precursor that is helpful in producing other important hormones. DHEA is one of the most abundant circulating steroids in humans. The main function of this hormone is to act as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids, both in the gonads and various other tissues in the human body. Moreover, DHEA has a variety of biological effects when binding to an array of nuclear and cell surface receptors and acting as a neurosteroid and modulator of neurotrophic factor receptors. In addition to that, DHEA is also a cancer-preventing agent and an inhibitor of G6PDH and TRPV1.
In the US, DHEA is sold as an over-the-counter supplement and medication called prasterone. Prasterone is used to correct DHEA deficiency due to adrenal insufficiency and old age. It can be used as a component of menopausal hormone therapy to manage painful sexual intercourse due to atrophy in the vagina and to prepare the cervix for childbirth. Furthermore, some research studies have shown that DHEA level is too low in disorders like ADHD, and most importantly, DHEA is associated with ADHD disease development.
What is DHEA-S?
DHEA-S is a neurosteroid and neurotrophin produced by the adrenal cortex. It is also known as androstenolone sulfate. DHEA-S is a 3β-sulfate ester and a metabolite of the DHEA. DHEA is converted to DHEA-S in the adrenal cortex and liver. Moreover, DHEA-S circulates in far greater relative concentration than DHEA in the blood.
DHEA-S is hormonally inert. It only functions as an important neurosteroid and neurotrophin. It acts as a positive allosteric modulator of the NMDA receptor, a negative allosteric modulator of the GABA and glycine receptors, and a weak agonist of the sigma receptor in neurons. Furthermore, a low level of DHEA-S indicates Addison’s disease and higher levels indicate an adrenal tumour or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
What are the Similarities Between DHEA and DHEA-S?
- DHEA and DHEA-S are two related molecules.
- DHEA-S is a metabolite of DHEA.
- Both these compounds are produced by the adrenal glands.
- Both these compounds can act as neurosteroids.
- The deregulation of the levels of both compounds can lead to diseases.
What is the Difference Between DHEA and DHEA-S?
DHEA is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, while DHEA-S is a neurosteroid and neurotrophin produced by the adrenal cortex. Thus, this is the key difference between DHEA and DHEA-S. Furthermore, DHEA-S circulates in the blood at a much higher relative concentration than DHEA, while DHEA circulates in the blood at a much lower relative concentration than DHEA-S.
The below infographic presents the differences between DHEA and DHEA-S in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – DHEA vs DHEA-S
DHEA and DHEA-S are two related molecules made predominantly by the adrenal glands. DHEA-S is also a metabolite of DHEA. DHEA is a steroid hormone, and the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain produce it. DHEA-S is a neurosteroid and neurotrophin that is produced by the adrenal cortex. So, this summarizes the difference between DHEA and DHEA-S.
1. “Dehydroepiandrosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate.” Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center.
2. “DHEA SUFATE Levels & DHEA Test: Purpose, Procedure, Risks, Results.” WebMD.
1. “DHEA synthesis” By Aschwole – ChemDraw (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels throughout life in human males and females” By Medgirl131 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
Leave a Reply