Elevations of plasma cortisol, a stress hormone, during prior episodes of low blood sugar
(hypoglycemia) appear to be responsible for the deficient responses during subsequent
hypoglycemia. Our specific aim is to determine if dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone
with anti-corticosteroid actions, can prevent hypoglycemia associated autonomic failure in
type 1 diabetic volunteers.
DHEA is the acronym for dehydroepiandrosterone, a steroid hormone produced naturally from
cholesterol in the adrenal glands of males and females. It is also sold as an
over-the-counter dietary supplement, and seems to have anticorticosteroid effects. DHEA
antagonizes the effects of corticosterone on hippocampal function in rats and reduces
responses to neural stress in mice. In our lab we have found that administration of the DHEA
to rats during antecedent hypoglycemia, preserves counter-regulatory responses to subsequent
hypoglycemia. The purpose of this study is to determine if the same response occurs in
- 28 (14 males, 14 females) Healthy volunteers aged 18-45 yr.
- 28 (14 males, 14 females) Type 1 diabetic patients aged 18-45 yr.
- HbA1c < 11.0%
- Has been diagnosed Type 1 DM
- No major diabetic tissue complications (i.e. history of retinopathy, neuropathy,
stasis ulcers, etc)
- Body mass index < 40kg/m-2
- Hepatic Failure/Jaundice
- Renal Failure
- Acute Cerebrovascular/ Neurological deficit
- Fever greater than 38.0 C
- Blood labs according to protocol