Relationships among Plasma DHEA and DHEAS, Cortisol, Symptoms of Dissociation, and Objective Performance in Humans Exposed to Underwater Navigation Stress – Source: Biological Psychiatry, Aug 15, 2009

[Note: The adrenal glands use cholesterol to synthesize pregnenolone, a steroid hormone precursor of all other steroid hormones including DHEA. The catalyzed, ‘reservoir’ form of DHEA is DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS).]

Background: A growing body of research has provided evidence that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are involved in an organism's response to stress and that it may provide beneficial behavioral and neurotrophic effects.

Methods: This study investigated plasma DHEA and DHEAS, cortisol, psychological symptoms of dissociation, and military performance in 41 healthy active duty subjects enrolled in the military Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC).

Results: Baseline values of DHEA and DHEAS were significantly and positively predictive of superior performance in the underwater navigation exam; in addition, DHEA and DHEAS were significantly and negatively related to stress-induced symptoms of dissociation during performance of the task. Similarly, participants who reported fewer symptoms of dissociation exhibited superior military performance and increased levels of DHEA after the test.

Conclusions: These data provide prospective, empiric evidence that DHEA and DHEAS are associated with superior stress tolerance, fewer symptoms of dissociation, and superior, objectively assessed, military performance.

Source: Biological Psychiatry, Aug 15, 2009. Morgan CA, Rasumssen A, Pietrzak RH, Coric V, Southwick SM. Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; National Center for PTSD, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University, Boston; National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts. [E-mail:]

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