A growing body of published research suggests the role of adrenal androgens in the onset and development of autoimmunity. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEAS)—the major androgen products of the adrenal gland—have immunosuppressive effect. It is, thereby, no surprise that lower levels of DHEA and DHEAS have been observed in most autoimmune diseases. As androgens, DHEA and DHEAS contribute to anabolic processes in the body i.e. building up of organs and tissues. To complicate matters, decreased amounts of these hormones are often associated with the increased secretion of the catabolic (i.e. break down) hormone, cortisol. If left unmanaged, this imbalance will result in tissue destruction.
Finally, aberrations in gonadal (i.e. ovaries and testes) function are often associated with adrenal imbalances. The resulting shifts in levels of prolactin, estrogen and other gonadal androgens further quell the immunosuppressive competence of the body.
The research is clear—an intimate relationship between endocrinology and inflammation is irrefutable. As such, the evaluation and management of #hormones should be strongly considered when treating autoimmune diseases.
Orv Hetil (2002). The role of adrenal and gonadal hormones in the pathogenesis of autoimmune polyarthritis. 143(20),1121-8. Review. Hungarian.
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