Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are hormones produced by the adrenal cortex that decline in concentration with age. Decreased DHEA levels are associated with age-related disease and oxidative stress but might be increased in younger adults by exercise. Studies are presented assessing the response of DHEA and DHEAS to varied-intensity exercise in older age. DHEA increased significantly in young adults (14.5 ± 6.1 ng/ml rising to 21.1 ± 7.5 ng/ml; p < .01), whereas DHEAS decreased significantly (2.56 ± 1.11 µg/ml falling to 1.90 ± 0.8 µg/ml; p < .05), after submaximal exercise. DHEA and DHEAS levels were significantly lower in older adults than in younger adults (p < .01), and there was no observed response of either hormone to exercise in older adults. Lipoprotein protein carbonylation is presented as a measure of oxidative status and significantly decreased in younger adults postexercise. Participants with higher DHEA postexercise had lower LDL protein carbonyl concentrations (Pearson’s coefficient –.409, p < .05).
The authors are with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.