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Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation

Editor-in-Chief: Chetrite, Gérard S.

Editorial Board: Alexis, Michael N. / Baniahmad, Aria / Beato, Miguel / Bouillon, Roger / Brodie, Angela / Carruba, Giuseppe / Chen, Shiuan / Cidlowski, John A. / Clarke, Robert / Coelingh Bennink, Herjan J.T. / Darbre, Philippa D. / Drouin, Jacques / Dufau, Maria L. / Edwards, Dean P. / Falany, Charles N. / Fernandez-Perez, Leandro / Ferroud, Clotilde / Feve, Bruno / Flores-Morales, Amilcar / Foster, Michelle T. / Garcia-Segura, Luis M. / Gastaldelli, Amalia / Gee, Julia M.W. / Genazzani, Andrea R. / Greene, Geoffrey L. / Groner, Bernd / Hampl, Richard / Hilakivi-Clarke, Leena / Hubalek, Michael / Iwase, Hirotaka / Jordan, V. Craig / Klocker, Helmut / Kloet, Ronald / Labrie, Fernand / Mendelson, Carole R. / Mück, Alfred O. / Nicola, Alejandro F. / O'Malley, Bert W. / Raynaud, Jean-Pierre / Ruan, Xiangyan / Russo, Jose / Saad, Farid / Sanchez, Edwin R. / Schally, Andrew V. / Schillaci, Roxana / Schindler, Adolf E. / Söderqvist, Gunnar / Speirs, Valerie / Stanczyk, Frank Z. / Starka, Luboslav / Sutter, Thomas R. / Tresguerres, Jesús A. / Wahli, Walter / Wildt, Ludwig / Yang, Kaiping / Yu, Qi

CiteScore 2018: 2.43

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Volume 35, Issue 1


Dehydroepiandrosterone and/or its metabolites: possible androgen receptor antagonistic effects on digitized mammographic breast density in normal breast tissue of postmenopausal women

Eva Lundström
  • Division for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Kjell Carlström
  • Division for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Sabine Naessen
  • Division for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Gunnar Söderqvist
  • Corresponding author
  • Division for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden, Phone: +46 8 517 700 00, Fax: +46 8 318114
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Published Online: 2018-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hmbci-2018-0036



Androgens, notably testosterone inhibit breast cell proliferation and negative correlations between free testosterone (fT) and breast cell proliferation as well as mammographic density have been described. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is reported to be a partial androgen antagonist in breast tumor cells in vitro. Our aim was to investigate if circulating DHEA had any effects on the association between circulating fT and mammographic density in vivo in the normal postmenopausal breast.


We measured visual and digitized mammographic density and serum DHEA, testosterone, sex-hormone-binding globulin and calculated fT in 84 healthy untreated postmenopausal women.


Significant negative correlations between fT and both visual and digitized mammographic density were strengthened when the median DHEA level decreased from 10.2 to 8.6 nmol/L. Thereafter, correlations became weaker again probably due to decreasing fT levels and/or sample size. There were no correlations between mammographic density and DHEA, at any of the DHEA concentration ranges studied. Serum levels of fT and DHEA were positively correlated.


Our findings demonstrate that circulating DHEA and/or its metabolites counteract the inhibitory action of fT on mammographic breast density.

Keywords: dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; mammographic density; normal breast; postmenopausal women; testosterone


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About the article

aDeceased (May 5, 2018. Obituary will be published separately).

Received: 2018-05-29

Accepted: 2018-07-02

Published Online: 2018-08-25

Author Statement

Research funding: This study was supported by grants from the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council (project No. 5982), the Karolinska Institutet Research Funds and NV ORGANON, Oss, The Netherlands.

Conflict of interest: All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Informed consent: Informed consent has been obtained from all individuals included into the study.

Ethical approval: The research results related to human use complied with all the relevant national regulations and institutional policies, was performed in accordance to the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration and has been approved by the local institutional review board.

Citation Information: Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, Volume 35, Issue 1, 20180036, ISSN (Online) 1868-1891, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hmbci-2018-0036.

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