Objective: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been reported to improve fatigue and reduced well-being. Both are major problems in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), even with quiescent disease. Low serum DHEA levels are common in SLE. We investigated the effects of DHEA administration on fatigue, well-being, and functioning in women with inactive SLE.
Methods: In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 60 female patients with inactive SLE received 200 mg oral DHEA or placebo. Primary outcome measures were general fatigue, depressive mood, mental well-being, and physical functioning. Assessments were before treatment, after 3, 6, and 12 months on medication, and 6 months after cessation of treatment.
Results: Patients from both the DHEA and placebo group improved on general fatigue (p < .001) and mental well-being (p = .04). There was no differential effect of DHEA. The belief to have used DHEA was a stronger predictor for improvement of general fatigue than the actual use of DHEA (p = .04).
Conclusions: Our trial does not indicate an effect of daily 200 mg oral DHEA on fatigue and well-being and therefore DHEA treatment is not recommended in unselected female patients with quiescent SLE.
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