Gender differences in the relationships among neurosteroid serum levels, cognitive function, and quality of life
Received 1 June 2018
Accepted for publication 28 July 2018
Published 19 September 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 2389—2399
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single anonymous peer review
Peer reviewer comments 3
Editor who approved publication: Dr Yuping Ning
Chien-Yu Chen,1 Chih-Ching Wu,2,3 Yu-Chi Huang,1 Chi-Fa Hung,1 Liang-Jen Wang4
1Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 2Molecular Medicine Research Center, Chang Gung University, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan; 3Department of Medical Biotechnology and Laboratory Science, Chang Gung University, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan; 4Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Background: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its sulfate ester (DHEA-S), and pregnenolone are neurosteroids that can be synthesized in the brain. Previous studies have hypothesized that these neurosteroids have antiaging, mood-enhancing, and cognitive-preserving effects; however, these effects may be gender-specific. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the gender differences in the relationships among neurosteroids (DHEA, DHEA-S, and pregnenolone), cognitive function, and quality of life in healthy individuals.
Method: In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled 47 men (mean age: 32.8 years) and 75 women (mean age: 35.4 years) who had no major physical or psychiatric illnesses and measured their serum DHEA, DHEA-S, and pregnenolone. Furthermore, we evaluated the subjects’ cognitive function and quality of life using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia and the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale, respectively.
Results: The serum levels of DHEA and DHEA-S demonstrated significant gender differences, even after controlling for age effect. In the male subjects, the DHEA serum levels were positively correlated with three domains of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale, including physical health, social relations, and environmental dimensions. Meanwhile, the DHEA-S levels positively correlated with the performance of working memory, and pregnenolone levels had a positive correlation with working memory, verbal fluency, and Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia composite score. However, in the female subjects, we observed a correlation only between the serum levels of DHEA-S and working memory.
Conclusion: The findings of our study indicate that neurosteroids play a vital role in cognitive function and quality of life among men but less so among women. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms of the gender-specific effect of neurosteroids require further investigation.
Keywords: endocrinology, DHEA, pregnenolone, cognition, quality of life
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