Neurosteroids are important neuroactive substrates with demonstrated involvement in several neurophysiological and disease processes. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with dysregulation of the catecholaminergic and serotonergic systems, however its relationship to irregularities or changes in neurosteroid levels remains unknown. We examined the relationship between blood levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its principal precursor pregnenolone and its principal metabolite dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) in 29 young male subjects aged 7-15 years with DSM-IV criteria of ADHD. Subjects were evaluated by a specially designed scale, following which patients were divided into two groups according to severity of symptomatology. Results indicated significant inverse correlations between clinical symptomatology and levels of DHEA and pregnenolone in the total group. These inverse correlations were particularly evident in the less severe group of subjects. Levels of DHEA and DHEAS were inversely correlated with the hyperactivity subscale. Furthermore, using median blood levels as a cut-off indicator, higher blood levels of DHEA and DHEAS were associated with fewer ADHD symptoms, in particular hyperactivity symptomatology. Our findings suggest a possible protective effect of various neurosteroids on the expression of ADHD symptomatology.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate