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Serum DHEA and Its Sulfate Are Associated With Incident Fall Risk in Older Men: The MrOS Sweden Study

Journal article
Authors Claes Ohlsson
Maria Nethander
M. K. Karlsson
B. E. Rosengren
E. Ribom
Dan Mellström
Liesbeth Vandenput
Published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
Volume 33
Issue 7
Pages 1227-1232
ISSN 0884-0431
Publication year 2018
Published at Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 1227-1232
Language en
Keywords sex steroids, dheas, falls, general population studies, men, elderly-men, physical performance, dehydroepiandrosterone, testosterone, women, frailty, predict, supplementation, fractures, hormone, Endocrinology & Metabolism
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


The adrenal-derived hormones dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are the most abundant circulating hormones and their levels decline substantially with age. Many of the actions of DHEAS are considered to be mediated through metabolism into androgens and estrogens in peripheral target tissues. The predictive value of serum DHEA and DHEAS for the likelihood of falling is unknown. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the associations between baseline DHEA and DHEAS levels and incident fall risk in a large cohort of older men. Serum DHEA and DHEAS levels were analyzed with mass spectrometry in the population-based Osteoporotic Fractures in Men study in Sweden (n=2516, age 69 to 81 years). Falls were ascertained every 4 months by mailed questionnaires. Associations between steroid hormones and falls were estimated by generalized estimating equations. During a mean follow-up of 2.7 years, 968 (38.5%) participants experienced a fall. High serum levels of both DHEA (odds ratio [OR] per SD increase 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.92) and DHEAS (OR 0.88, 95% CI, 0.81 to 0.95) were associated with a lower incident fall risk in models adjusted for age, BMI, and prevalent falls. Further adjustment for serum sex steroids or age-related comorbidities only marginally attenuated the associations between DHEA or DHEAS and the likelihood of falling. Moreover, the point estimates for DHEA and DHEAS were only slightly reduced after adjustment for lean mass and/or grip strength. Also, the addition of the narrow walk test did not substantially alter the associations between serum DHEA or DHEAS and fall risk. Finally, the association with incident fall risk remained significant for DHEA but not for DHEAS after simultaneous adjustment for lean mass, grip strength, and the narrow walk test. This suggests that the associations between DHEA and DHEAS and falls are only partially mediated via muscle mass, muscle strength, and/or balance. In conclusion, older men with high DHEA or DHEAS levels have a lesser likelihood of a fall. (c) 2018 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

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