Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate level varies nonlinearly with symptom severity in major depressive disorder

Dasom Uh, Hyun Ghang Jeong, Kwang Yeon Choi, So Young Oh, Suji Lee, Seung Hyun Kim, Sook Haeng Joe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) is still not well understood. Conflicting results for surrogate biomarkers in MDD have been reported, which might be a consequence of the heterogeneity of MDD patients. Therefore, we aim to investigate how the severity of depression and various symptom domains are related to the levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-s) in MDD patients. Methods: We recruited 117 subjects from a general practice. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Depressive symptoms were divided into three subdomains according to BDI items; somatic symptoms, guilt and failure, and mood and inhibition. Results: In subjects with very-mild-to-moderate depression, the DHEA-s level increased as BDI score did. However, the DHEA-s levels in the subjects with severe depression were significantly lower than in subjects with moderate depression (p=0.003). DHEA-s level was correlated with the BDI subscore for guilt and failure in very-mild-to-moderate depression (r=0.365, p=0.006). Conclusion: The DHEA-s level appears to be indicative of MDD severity with respect to depressive symptoms, especially regarding guilt and failure. Our findings suggest that the upregulation of DHEA-s may be a part of a compensatory process in very-mild-to-moderate depression, and the failure of this compensation mechanism may underlie the development of severe depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate
  • Depression
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Neuroendocrinology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate level varies nonlinearly with symptom severity in major depressive disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this