Perimenopausal regulation of steroidogenesis in the nonhuman primate

Krystina G. Sorwell, Steven G. Kohama, Henryk F. Urbanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Human aging is characterized by a marked decrease in circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS), hormonal changes associated with cognitive decline. Despite beneficial effects of DHEA supplementation in rodents, studies in elderly humans have generally failed to show cognitive improvement after treatment. In the present study we evaluate the effects of age and estradiol supplementation on expression of genes involved in the de novo synthesis of DHEA and its conversion to estradiol in the rhesus macaque hippocampus. Using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) we demonstrate the expression of genes associated with this synthesis in several areas of the rhesus brain. Furthermore, real-time PCR reveals an age-related attenuation of hippocampal expression level of the genes CYP17A1, STS, and 3BHSD1/2. Additionally, short-term administration of estradiol is associated with decreased expression of CYP17A1, STS, SULT2B1, and AROMATASE, consistent with a downregulation not only of estrogen synthesis from circulating DHEA, but also of de novo DHEA synthesis within the hippocampus. These findings suggest a decline in neurosteroidogenesis may account for the inefficacy of DHEA supplementation in elderly humans, and that central steroidogenesis may be a function of circulating hormones and menopausal status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487.e1-1487.e13
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Hormone replacement
  • Menopause
  • Neurosteroidogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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