Dehydroepiandrosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate in Atopic Allergy and Chronic Urticaria

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The increasing amounts of evidence prove that sex hormones modulate different cells function, including mast cells and lymphocytes. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate ester (DHEA-S) are both the secretory products of adrenal glands and the most abundant hormones in the systemic circulation of humans, converted then into androgens and estrogens in the periphery. DHEA may affect production of Th1 and Th2- associated cytokines, suggesting their significance in diseases where imbalanced lymphocyte activity plays the essential role, also in atopic diseases. Reduced circulating concentration of these androgens has been demonstrated in patients with immune-inflammatory diseases, including atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome and asthma. It is unknown however, whether such changes contribute in any way to etiopathogenesis of the disorders, or are merely their consequences. Chronic urticaria, not included in the atopic triad, is a mast cell-dependent disease characterised by activation of autoimmune and inflammatory processes responding to different factors. Alterations in the immune-neuro-endocrine milieu may contribute to the development of the disease. It has been demonstrated that DHEA-S concentration is significantly lower in the peripheral circulation of patients suffering from chronic urticaria, as compared with healthy subjects. On one hand, this reflects some changes in hormonal homeostasis in the course of urticarial processes, yet on the other, suggests some possible role for this hormone in pathophysiology of the disease. In this brief review we present the available data on DHEA-S involvement in events associated with atopic allergy as well as chronic urticaria.

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