DHEA Augmentation of Musculoskeletal Adaptations to Exercise in Older Women

  • End date
    Apr 23, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Colorado, Denver
Updated on 23 March 2022
bone mineral density
treatment for osteoporosis
Accepts healthy volunteers


To determine whether the musculoskeletal adaptations to bone-loading exercise can be significantly augmented in older women (aged 60-85) with low bone mass (osteopenia; T-scores <-1.0 and >-2.5) or moderate osteoporosis (T-scores < -2.5 and >= -3.0) and by restoring serum DHEAS to young adult levels by oral DHEA replacement.


This will be the first study to measure changes in areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and fat-free mass (FFM) in response to dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) alone and combined with exercise in postmenopausal women. The body of evidence from carefully executed Randomized Controlled Studies (RCTs) provides support for DHEA therapy to increase aBMD and FFM in older women. Less is known about whether DHEA therapy enhances the effects of exercise on the aging musculoskeletal system when an appropriate mechanical stimulus is applied.

Condition Low Bone Mass, Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal
Treatment Placebo, Exercise, DHEA
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03227458
SponsorUniversity of Colorado, Denver
Last Modified on23 March 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

non-frail, as determined by short physical performance battery (SPPB) score > 9 (0-12 scale)
years or longer since menopause (defined as last menstrual period)
willing to participate in a 36-week exercise program that will start at a moderate intensity and gradually progress to a higher intensity
willing to be randomized to an exercise or a no-exercise arm of the study
willing to take DHEA (50mg/d) or a placebo pill daily and remain blinded for up to 36 weeks
not performing resistance exercise training or high impact weight-bearing exercise (e.g., jogging) ≥ 2 days per week in the past 6 months
ambulatory without assistive devices
serum DHEAS < 140 μg/dL (3.8 μmol/L)
low bone mass or moderate osteoporosis defined as lumbar spine or proximal hip aBMD t-scores < -1.0 and > = -3.0
evidence of a negative (no findings suspicious for breast cancer) mammogram within the past 12 months
refusal of standard osteoporosis treatment in women with moderate osteoporosis (BMD t-scores >=-3.0 and =< 2.5)
planning to reside in the Denver area for the duration of the study
normal cognitive function, as determined by a Mini-Cog score > = 4

Exclusion Criteria

history of hospitalization for Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19)
uncontrolled hypertension defined as resting systolic blood pressure (sBP) >150 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure (dBP) >90 mmHg; participants who do not meet these criteria at first screening will be re-evaluated, including follow-up evaluation by their Primary Care Physician (PCP) with initiation or adjustment of anti-hypertensive medications
diagnosed ischemic heart disease or indicators of unstable ischemic heart disease (e.g., angina, ST segment depression) or arrhythmias at rest or during the Gated Exercise Test (GXT) without negative follow-up evaluation will be cause for exclusion; follow-up evaluation must include diagnostic testing (e.g., thallium stress test) with interpretation by a cardiologist
does not meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for home isolation because has had a positive severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-COV-2) test less than 10 days before study entry; or has had fever within the past 3 days and respiratory symptoms have not improved; or symptoms first appeared less than 10 days before study entry
diagnosis of heart failure, clinically significant aortic stenosis, uncontrolled angina, or uncontrolled arrhythmia
orthopedic problems (e.g., severe osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis) that greatly limit the ability to perform moderate to high intensity resistance exercise (e.g., unable to be properly positioned in exercise equipment or to have severely restricted range of motion even after modifications have been made)
hip fracture, hip or knee replacement, or spinal surgery in the past 6 months
undergoing physical therapy involving the lower extremities
pulmonary disease requiring use of oral steroids within the previous 6 months or the use of supplemental oxygen ≥ 4 liters with physical exertion
hematocrit (HCT) > 54%
thyroid dysfunction, defined as an ultrasensitive thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) < 0.4 or > 10.0 microunits/mL;, without signs or symptoms of clinical hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Volunteers with abnormal TSH values will be re-considered for participation in the study after follow-up evaluation by their PCP with initiation or adjustment of thyroid hormone replacement
estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) < 45, using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) equation (Levey et al, Annals Inter Med, 1999; Munter et al, Clin J Am Soc Nephol, 2009)
poorly controlled diabetes mellitus based on HbA1c > 8.5%, or use of insulin
fasted serum triglycerides > 400 mg/dL
acute liver disease indicated by liver function tests (alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase) ≥ 1.5 times the upper limits of normal
use of DHEA supplementation or sex hormones in the past 6 months. Use of prescription low dose vaginal estrogen creams (Premarin or Estrace) 3 days per week will not be exclusionary
serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D <20 ng/mL; volunteers will be re-considered for participation in the study after follow-up evaluation by their PCP with initiation or adjustment of vitamin D supplementation per the study's vitamin D repletion protocol
use in the past 6 months of any medications known to alter bone metabolism (e.g., oral glucocorticoids, bone anti-resorptive agents)
documented history of cognitive impairment or dementia, or Mini-Cog < 4
current smoker
personal history of breast, ovarian, metastatic endometrial, or cervical cancer
any cancer requiring treatment in the past 3 years except non-melanoma skin cancers
un-diagnosed vaginal bleeding
women who, in the judgment of the study physician, appear incapable of safely participating in the exercise (e.g., neuromuscular/musculoskeletal impairment)
use of insulin
lumbar spine, total hip, or femoral neck aBMD t-scores < -3.0
secondary osteoporosis
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note