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Effects of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) on Host Virus Interactions

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Annual rept. Aug 1986-Jun 1987

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A significant protective effect of a native adrenal steroid, dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA was demonstrated in studies of two lethal viral infection models in mice, systemic coxsackievirus B4 and herpes simplex type 2 encephalitis. The steroid was active either by long-term feeding or by a single subcutaneous injection prior to initiation of infection. A closely related steroid, etiocholanolone, was not protective in these models. Histopathological analysis, leukocyte counts, and numbers of spleen antibody forming cells in the coxsackievirus B4 model suggests that DHEA functions by maintaining or potentiating the immune competence of mice otherwise depressed by viral infection. DHEA protection was most evident when a large inoculum of virus was given, suggesting that the protective mechanism required a triggering action by the virus. DHEA was not effective in genetically immunodeficient HRSJ hrhr mice and did not demonstrate antiviral activity in vitro. While the molecular basis for DHEAs effect on the immune system is not known, studies by others suggest that it may counteract the stress related immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids stimulated by viral infection. Because DHEA is a native steroid that has been used clinically with minimal side effects, the utility of DHEA in the therapeutic modulation of acute and chronic viral infections including acquired immune deficiency syndrome e.g., HIV deserves intensive study. Keywords Coxsackievirus, Herpesvirus, Immune regulation, Resistance, Infection, HIV, Hematology, Antiviral agents.

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  • Pharmacology

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