Lupus and DHEA

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which an individual's antibodies attack a part of the body because the immune system considers that part to be foreign to the body.

DHEA improves the body's testosterone and estrogen levels, which play an important role in strengthening the immune system. As lupus is an autoimmune disease, it is considered that DHEA may be useful as a treatment as it provides immune support. It has also been observed that testosterone and estrogen levels are often out of balance in women with lupus. Taking DHEA supplements can therefore correct this imbalance and help in the treatment of lupus.

DHEA can also be used to treat the symptoms of lupus, providing instant relief while the disease itself subsides. DHEA reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines such as cytokines IL-4, 5 and 6 which can cause the most common symptoms of lupus. It also plays an important role in enhancing the production of cytokine IL-2, an anti-inflammatory that can alleviate symptoms of lupus.

The majority of clinical studies on the effects of DHEA on systemic lupus erythematosus recommend its use as an adjunct therapy.

Clinical studies

  • A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 120 women with systemic lupus erythematosus showed that 200 mg of DHEA daily can significantly reduce lupus symptoms.

  • The study by Genelabs, conducted in 27 medical centers on 191 women with lupus, showed that those who took 200 mg of DHEA per day, could reduce their daily dose of prednisone while maintaining equivalent relief of pain, inflammation and fatigue. Study subjects reported that they felt much better.

  • A study sponsored by Genelabs, carried out in several medical centers on 370 women stricken with lupus, is in the process of being finalized. This study investigates whether GL701 also improves or stabilizes disease symptoms, such as redness and rashes. The study ends in March and some researchers are optimistic that a DHEA-based drug for mild to moderate cases of lupus can be approved within 3 years. The form of DHEA contained in GL701 is not available outside of this study.