In view of reported discrepancies concerning antioxidant activity of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a widely used dietary supplement, the current investigation was undertaken to evaluate the antioxidant properties of DHEA in both kidney-cortex and liver of alloxan (ALX)-induced diabetic rabbits, as this diabetogenic compound exhibits the ROS-dependent action.
ALX was injected to animals following 7 days of DHEA administration. Four groups of rabbits were used in the experiments: control, DHEA-treated control, diabetic and DHEA-treated diabetic.
Our results show for the first time, that in kidney-cortex DHEA resulted in normalization of hydroxyl free radicals (HFR) levels and restoration of catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities to near the control values, while in liver DHEA prevented the malondialdehyde (MDA) accumulation and normalized glutathione reductase (GR) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) activities.
Moreover, in both kidney-cortex and liver DHEA supplementation prevented GSSG elevation accompanied by a decrease in GSH/GSSG ratio. Although DHEA attenuated oxidative stress in both kidney-cortex and liver of ALX-induced diabetic rabbits and significantly delayed the onset of diabetes in time, it did not protect against the final development of diabetes.
In conclusion, the current investigation underscores the complexity of the antioxidant action of DHEA. The data are of clinical interest since DHEA supplementation could prevent the deleterious effects of ROS and delay, or even prevent the onset of many diseases. However, in view of the reported pro-oxidant effects of high DHEA doses, the potential use of this agent as a supplement needs a careful evaluation.