Semin Reprod Med 1999; 17(4): 327-338
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1016242
Copyright © 1999 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

Changes in Adrenocortical Function with Aging and Therapeutic Implications

Andrew J. Harper* , John E. Buster , Peter R. Casson
  • *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and
  • †Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and
  • ‡Division of Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.
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15. März 2008 (online)


Throughout life, the adrenal cortex exhibits dramatic morphogenic and steroidogenic changes. While there is subtle senescent decline in aldosterone, and a similarly subtle increase in Cortisol, the adrenal androgens dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) decline with age in a situation similar to menopause, and this decline is considered by some to aggravate some age-related diseases. This decline is associated with an almost complete loss of the inner zone of the adrenal cortex, known as the zona reticularis. This review addresses these adrenal cortical changes, and explores their clinical significance. In particular, the clinical data on DHEA replacement in aging is addressed.