Biomedical Tidbits

DHEA Levels Decline in the Brain with Age

By Will Block

T he graphs of age-related declines in DHEA have all referenced the amounts found in serum in the bloodstream. Now we have a study showing that the amounts in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) also decline with age. Given what we know about DHEA and its neurosteroidal properties, including its correspondence to intelligence and memory, this is an important finding. Because the CSF bathes the brain and spinal cord, this information is but another reason to start supplementing with DHEA as levels decline. These findings emphasize that our DHEA levels come down by approximately 2% per year from about the end of our twenties. At age 70, our levels may be only 10% of what they were as a young adult, in our brains as well our blood.

Scientists measured DHEA and cortisol in 62 subjects aged 3-85 years old, 36 of whom were males and 36 females. Also noteworthy, the researchers from the University of Cambridge in England also determined that the ratio of cortisol to DHEA increased with age in the brain. Due to the decrease in DHEA, the result was relative hyper-cortisolemia. Because cortisol tends to exacerbate stress, and DHEA to lessen it (DHEA has antiglucocorticoidal activity),relative hyper-cortisolemia is an ominous sign of the inevitable ravages of the aging process that may be ameliorated with DHEA supplementation.


  1. Guazzo EP, Kirkpatrick PJ, Goodyer IM, Shiers HM, Herbert J. Cortisol, DHEA, and DHEAS in the CSF fluid of man: Relation to blood levels and the effects of age. J Clin Endo Met. 1996;81:3951–3960.

Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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