Abbrevation: DHEA SO4
Sector: Hormone 1
Transport: at 2-8˚c, -20˚c
Storage: 2 day at 2-8˚c for longer time at -20˚c
Test Name: DHEA SO4
Normal Range: female:35-430 male:80-560
DHEAS is measured to evaluate adrenal function and certain adrenal tumours, and to investigate the cause of virilisation (showing features of male hormones) or excess facial and body hair (hirsutism) in girls and women or early (precocious) puberty in boys.
The measurement of DHEAS is used very infrequently in the UK as it has been found that other tests are more helpful. A doctor may measure DHEAS in those with signs or symptoms that may be due to the presence or too much male hormone.
It is sometimes used in the investigation of Cushing’s syndrome.
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
No test preparation is needed
Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate (DHEAS) is the sulphated form of a weak androgen, DHEA, a male sex hormone that is present in the blood of both men and women. It has a role to play in developing male secondary sexual characteristics at puberty, and it can be changed by the body into stronger androgens, such as testosterone and androstenedione, or can be changed into the female hormone oestrogen. DHEAS is produced by the adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the adrenal glands, with much smaller amounts being produced by the woman's ovaries and man's testes. DHEAS secretion is controlled by the pituitary hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and by other pituitary factors.
Since DHEAS is primarily produced by the adrenal glands, it is useful as a marker for adrenal function. Adrenal cancers, and hyperplasia (excessive growth) can lead to the overproduction of DHEAS but is frequently inappropriately low when an adrenal tumour is present. While elevated concentrations may not be noticed in adult men, they can lead to amenorrhoea and visible symptoms of in women. These changes vary in severity and may include:
- a deeper voice
- hirsutism (increased facial and/or body hair)
- male pattern baldness
- increased muscularity
- enlargement of the Adam’s apple
DHEAS may be useful in the investigation of precocious puberty in some boys but only in girls precocious puberty associated with signs of virilisation. DHEAS may also be used in the specialist investigation of disorders of sex development such as in babies with ambiguous genitalia (when difficult to determine whether baby is boy or girl) or at any point thereafter.
A distinct period of puberty, which can occur before the other stages, is called adrenarche. This is activation of the adrenal gland before the ovaries or testicles where a surge of adrenal androgens, primarily DHEAS, can result in some body hair and the change to adult body odour (sweat starts to smell). Premature (early) adrenarche is mostly benign and is more common in girls and children of South Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.