Abdominal fat decreases, insulin action improves when elderly take hormone

ts nor physicians knew who received DHEA or the placebo until the conclusion of the study.

Using highly sensitive MRI measurements of the amount of abdominal fat, the researchers found that compared with placebo, DHEA supplementation resulted in a decrease in visceral fat (within the abdomen) of 10.2 percent in the women and 7.4 percent in the men. DHEA therapy also resulted in a decrease in subcutaneous abdominal fat (below the skin surface) averaging 6 percent in both the women and the men. The researchers found no adverse effects from DHEA therapy.

At the end of the study, patients receiving DHEA had significantly lower insulin levels during oral glucose tolerance tests than at the start of the study. Their glucose levels remained unchanged, and these results indicate an improvement in insulin action. The degree of improvement in insulin action correlated closely to the amount of decrease in visceral fat.

"Among the different fat stores, visceral fat is specifically considered potent and metabolically active because its blood drains directly to the liver," Villareal says. "Fatty acids from visceral fat get deposited in the liver and other organs and then mediate the decrease in insulin action that leads to an increased risk for diabetes."

A larger study on the effects of one year of DHEA replacement is in progress, and Villareal and Holloszy are actively recruiting individuals in the 65 to 75 year age range to participate in this new study.


Contact: Gwen Ericson
Washington University School of Medicine

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