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DHEA and Immune Function

The age-related decline in DHEA levels is believed to contribute to various medical conditions, including impairment of immune function. This predisposes older individuals to a wide array of fatal diseases like autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions. Research suggests that DHEA supplementation may help improve symptoms and even prevent immune system-related disorders by boosting immune function via several different mechanisms:
1. In patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), DHEA significantly reduces symptoms and improves health related quality of life. [294-306]
2. In patients with tuberculosis, DHEA helps relieve symptoms by clearing bacteria and preventing tissue damage. [307]
3. DHEA improves immune function by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. [308]
4. DHEA has strong antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic properties capable of protecting against a variety of lethal infections. [309-310]
5. In age-advanced men with low DHEA levels, administration of oral DHEA at a daily dose of 50 mg significantly activates immune function by increasing the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that has immune-modulating effects. [311]
6. DHEA improves immune function by regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-2, IL-1, IL-6 and TNFα. [312-319]
7. DHEA is metabolized to other sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, both of which regulate immune cell development and function. [320-324]
8. In elderly men and women, DHEA boosts immune function by increasing the production of immune system cells such as CD4+ T cells. [325-332]
9. DHEA mediates its immune-boosting effects by suppressing the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) pathway in activated lymphocytes (white blood cells). [333] An increase in this pathway is associated with compromised immune function. [334]
10. DHEA improves immune function by enhancing natural killer cell activity. [335]
11. DHEA supplementation is used to enhance the antibody response to tetanus and influenza vaccines. [336-338]
12. In patients with asthma, DHEA reduces allergic inflammatory airway reactions, thereby improving symptoms. [339]

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