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DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate)

Analyte: Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate

Specimen Type: Serum

Optimum Volume: 0.5 mL


2-8°C -20°C -70°C
2 days 2 months 10 years

Reporting units: ug/dL

Method: Chemiluminescence

Biological or Clinical Significance:

Measurement of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-SO4), an adrenal steroid, is used in investigations of abnormal hair growth (hirsutism) and balding (alopecia) in women. It is also employed in the assessment of adrenarche and delayed puberty. Circulating DHEA-SO4 originates almost entirely from the adrenals.

Plasma levels of DHEA-SO4 increase steadily from about the seventh year of life then gradually decline after the third decade. DHEA-SO4 is secreted into the bloodstream at a rate only somewhat greater than DHEA, but because of its much slower turnover (DHEA-SO4 has a half-life of nearly a full day) a plasma level that is almost a thousand fold higher is maintained. Unlike cortisol, DHEA-SO4 does not exhibit significant diurnal variation. Unlike testosterone, it does not circulate bound to sex hormone-binding globulin and hence is not influenced by alterations in the level of this carrier protein. Its abundance, together with its within-day and day-to-day stability, makes it an excellent direct indicator of adrenal androgen output, generally superior to the measurement of urinary 17-ketosteroids in this context.

Accordingly, DHEA-SO4 is often assayed in conjunction with free testosterone as an initial screen for hyperandrogenism in hirsutism.

In addition, it has recently been shown that DHEA-SO4 levels correlate with the degree of atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women with diabetes.

Elevated plasma DHEA-SO4 levels that, over the course of approximately two weeks, are dexamethasone-suppressible may also result from adrenal hyperplasia.

Principle of Test Method:

The DHEA-SO4 assay is an automated competitive immunoassay using electrochemiluminescent detection.


1. Orentreich N, Brind JL, Rizer RL, Vogelman JH. Age changes and sex differences in serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations throughout adulthood. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1984; 59:551-555.

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