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Volume 13, Issue 6 (November 2011) 13, 898–902; 10.1038/aja.2011.116

Low DHEAS levels are associated with depressive symptoms in elderly Chinese men: results from a large study

Samuel YS Wong1, Jason C Leung2, Timothy Kwok3, Claes Ohlsson4, Liesbeth Vandenput4, Ping C Leung2 and Jean Woo5

1 School of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2 Jockey Club Centre for Osteoporosis Care and Control, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
3 Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
4 Center for Bone Research, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg SE-413 45, Sweden
5 Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Correspondence: Dr SYS Wong, (yeungshanwong@cuhk.edu.hk)

Received 23 February 2011; Revised 11 May 2011; Accepted 29 June 2011; Published online 29 August 2011


This study investigated the association between depressive symptoms in elderly Chinese men and the total testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulphate (DHEAS), oestradiol and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels, and the free androgen index. Cross-sectional data from 1147 community-dwelling elderly men, aged 65 and older, were used. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Chinese Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Total testosterone, free testosterone, DHEA, DHEAS, total oestradiol, the free androgen index and SHBG levels were assessed. DHEA was significantly associated with GDS score, and there was a trend towards DHEAS association, but this was not significant (β=-0.110, P=0.015; β=-0.074, P=0.055). However, no association was seen between depressive symptoms and total testosterone levels, free testosterone levels, oestradiol levels or SHBG levels. In terms of the presence of clinically relevant depressive symptoms, there were no statistically significant differences between patients in the lowest quartile of sex steroid hormone levels and those in other quartiles of sex steroid hormone levels. Similarly to Western studies, our study shows that DHEA and DHEAS levels are associated with depressive symptoms.

Keywords: Chinese; dehydroepiandrosterone; depression; elderly men; testosterone

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