Fatigue in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: the role of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate.

Research paper by C L CL Overman, A A Hartkamp, E R ER Bossema, M M Bijl, G L R GL Godaert, J W J JW Bijlsma, R H W M RH Derksen, R R Geenen

Indexed on: 01 Sep '12Published on: 01 Sep '12Published in: Lupus


Fatigue is a major problem in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the physiological substrate of this fatigue is largely unclear. To examine if low levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate DHEAS play a role in SLE fatigue, we compared: 1) DHEAS levels and fatigue between 60 female patients with SLE with low disease activity (31 using, 29 not using prednisone) and 60 age-matched healthy women, and 2) fatigue between patients with SLE with low and normal DHEAS levels. Serum DHEAS levels were determined with an Advantage Chemiluminescense System. The Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) was used to assess fatigue. Patients were more fatigued (p ≤ 0.001) than healthy women and more often had below-normal DHEAS levels (p < 0.001). Patients using prednisone with low and normal DHEAS levels reported a similar level of fatigue (p ≥ 0.39). Patients with low DHEAS levels not using prednisone reported less fatigue than those with normal DHEAS levels (p ≤ 0.03). Thus, our results indicate that low DHEAS levels in SLE are not - or even inversely - related to fatigue. After our previous finding that DHEA administration does not reduce fatigue, this result further indicates that low serum DHEA(S) levels alone do not offer an explanation for SLE fatigue.