Objective. To determine if dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has clinical benefits in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods. Ten female patients with mild to moderate SLE and various disease manifestations were given DHEA (200 mg/day orally) for 3—6 months. The patients were given other medications as clinically indicated, and followed with respect to overall disease activity and specific outcome parameters.

Results. After 3—6 months of DHEA treatment, indices for overall SLE activity including the SLEDAI (SLE Disease Activity Index) score and physician's overall assessment were improved, and corticosteroid requirements were decreased. Of 3 patients with significant proteinuria, 2 showed marked and 1 modest reductions in protein excretion. DHEA was well tolerated, the only frequently noted side effect being mild acneiform dermatitis.

Conclusion. DHEA shows promise as a new therapeutic agent for the treatment of mild to moderate SLE. Further studies of DHEA in the treatment of SLE are warranted.