2016-08-02

New Findings From the MIDUS Study: Precipitous Dehydroepiandrosterone Declines Reflect Decreased Physical Vitality and Function

New Findings From the MIDUS Study:
Precipitous Dehydroepiandrosterone Declines Reflect Decreased Physical Vitality and Function
Danielle N. Rendina, Carol D. Ryff and Christopher L. Coe
The Journals of Gerontology: Series A
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2016)
doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw135
First published online: July 28, 2016
Abstract
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated form, DHEA-S, peak in young adulthood and then decrease dramatically with age. However, there is extensive variation in this age-related hormone decline, suggesting an early decrement may be associated with lower vitality and be prognostic of poor health in old age. To determine whether DHEA-S and DHEA are correlated with physical indices of vitality, hormone levels were analyzed with respect to clinical health histories, physical functioning including grip strength, gait speed and repetitive standing, and self-reported chronic pain. The participants (N = 1,214) were 35–86 years of age from a nationally representative survey, Midlife Development in the United States. DHEA-S and DHEA below age-expected levels were associated with more chronic illness conditions and self-reported persistent pain and pain sensitivity upon manual palpation. Additionally, lower DHEA-S and DHEA correlated with poorer performance on tests of physical functioning by middle age suggesting a more precipitous decline is already indicative of reduced vigor and physical strength. When considered with respect to age- and gender-typical norms, larger decrements in DHEA-S and DHEA may be causally related to the loss of physical vitality. Conversely, when hormone secretion is sustained in older adults, it conveys reduced risk for the physical weakness and ailments that precede frailty.