Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an endogenous steroid having a wide variety of biological and biochemical effects. In the present study, we have examined the role of DHEA on various rodent models of experimental hypertension. Sprague-Dawley rats were given subcutaneous injections of 1.5 mg dexamethasone every alternate day, resulting in an increase in systolic blood pressure within 1 wk. Interestingly, administration of a pharmacological dose of 1.5, 3, or 7.5 mg DHEA along with dexamethasone prevented dexamethasone-induced hypertension in a dose-dependent manner. DHEA had no effect on the hypertension induced by deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt administration using uninephrectomized rats or on the genetic model of spontaneously hypertensive rats. Dexamethasone administration resulted in a significant weight loss in rats, which was not prevented by simultaneous administration of DHEA. These results indicate that dexamethasone-mediated weight loss may involve mechanisms separate from its hypertensive action. Dexamethasone treatment resulted in a significant decrease in food consumption that was not reversed by DHEA. It is concluded that DHEA at doses above physiological levels when given subcutaneously has no effect on DOCA-salt or a genetic model of hypertension but has a beneficial effect on dexamethasone-induced hypertension.
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