Musculoskeletal disorders related to ageing are one of the most common causes of mortality and morbidity among elderly individuals worldwide.
The typical constitutive components of the musculoskeletal system, including bone, muscle, and joints, gradually undergo a process of tissue loss and degeneration as a result of life-long mechanical and biological stress, ultimately leading to the onset of a series of age-related musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoporosis (OP), sarcopenia, and osteoarthritis (OA).
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a precursor of androgen secreted mainly by the adrenal gland, has attracted much attention as a marker for senescence due to its unique age-related changes. This pre-hormone has been publicly regarded as an “antidote for ageing” because of its favourable effect against a wide range of age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, cardiovascular diseases, immunosenescence and skin senescence, though its effect on age-related musculoskeletal diseases has been explored to a lesser extent.
In the present review, we summarized the action of DHEA against OP, sarcopenia and OA. Extensive detailed descriptions of the pathogenesis of each of these musculoskeletal disorders are beyond the scope of this review; instead, we aim to highlight the association of changes in DHEA with the processes of OP, sarcopenia and OA.
A special focus will also be placed on the overlapping pathogeneses among these three diseases, and the molecular mechanisms underlying the action of DHEA against these diseases are discussed or postulated.