To investigate the clinical significance of plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) measurements, 175 patients with histologically confirmed adrenal tumors, 10 cortisol-producing adenomas, 59 aldosterone-producing adenomas, 56 no-hyperfunctioning adenomas, 13 adrenocortical carcinomas, 13 adrenal cysts, and 24 adrenomedullary tumors were studied. Plasma DHEAS levels were expressed as percentage of the mean of sex- and age-matched groups of healthy, normal subjects (DHEAS %). We found that before adrenal surgery, DHEAS % values were significantly reduced in patients with cortisol-producing (mean, 15.2% of control; 95% confidence interval (CI), 9.4-24.7%), non-hyperfunctioning (28.4%; 22.4-36.0%) as well as aldosterone-producing adrenocortical adenomas (55.4%; 47.1-65.1%) compared with controls, while values were normal in patients with adrenal cysts and in those with adrenomedullary tumors. Plasma DHEAS % values exhibited a great variability in adrenocortical carcinomas (mean, 84.0%; 95% CI, 33.2-212.5%). Death from adrenocortical carcinoma was more frequent in patients with high plasma DHEAS % values compared with those with low DHEAS %. During long-term postoperative monitoring, we found that plasma DHEAS levels of patients with aldosterone-producing and non-hyperfunctioning adenomas returned to normal in the second and fourth postoperative year respectively. In patients with cortisol-producing adenomas, plasma DHEAS remained suppressed for as long as 8 years after the operation. These findings show that except in adrenocortical carcinomas and cysts, plasma DHEAS levels are significantly decreased in all groups of adrenocortical tumors, including non-hyperfunctioning and aldosterone-producing tumors. The extent of this decrease and the postoperative persistence of suppressed plasma DHEAS levels may be related to the glucocorticoid production of adrenocortical tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism