DHEA and the West Nile Virus

James Michael Howard jmhoward at srpynet.com
Sat Aug 5 12:54:58 EST 2000


DHEA and the West Nile Virus

James Michael Howard
Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.

This year's first confirmed West Nile virus (WNV) infection in New York occurred
in a 78-year-old man who is recovering at home (Associated Press, August 5).
The mean age of New York's  fatalities in 1999 was "81.5 years, each of whom had
underlying medical problems." (Hum Pathol 2000; 31: 527-31).  A survey of WNV in
Bucharest, Romania, in 1996, found 373 cases of WNV, 17 of these people, older
than age 50, died; increased age increased mortality (Lancet 1998; 352: 767-71).
West Nile virus is deadly to old people.  New York is currently engaged in "an
aggressive pesticide-spraying campaign," and the National Institutes of Health
has awarded a three million dollar contract to OraVax Inc. (Massachusetts) to
produce a vaccine.

The hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), may be useful against the West Nile
virus.  In stressed mice, which increases vulnerability, the mortality rate of
West Nile virus is significantly reduced by DHEA, (J Med Virol 1992; 38:159-66).
In people, DHEA naturally begins to decline around age 25 and reaches very low
levels in old age.  No person with WNV has been given DHEA, but it might provide
significant protection from WNV as well as other positive effects.
"Administration of oral DHEA at a daily dose of 50 mg to age-advanced men with
low serum DHEAS levels significantly activated immune function." (J Gerontol A
Biol Sci Med Sci 1997; 52: M1-7).  A study of effects of 50 mg of oral DHEA
"confirmed the lack of harmful consequences of 50 mg/day DHEA administration
over one year" (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A  2000; 97: 4279-84), and "A single
50-mg dose of DHEA administered orally at 0700 hours restores the circadian
rhythmicity of serum DHEA." (Metabolism 2000; 49: 548-51).  Additionally,
supplemental "DHEA in appropriate replacement doses appears to have remedial
effects with respect to its ability to induce an anabolic growth factor,
increase muscle strength and lean body mass, activate immune function, and
enhance quality of life in aging men and women, with no significant adverse
effects." (Ann N Y Acad Sci 1995; 774: 128-42).  DHEA significantly activates
the immune system in the elderly and produces no harmful side effects.

Perhaps, New York health officials should also recommend that elderly people
take 50 mg of DHEA per day as a supplement.  DHEA cannot be patented, therefore,
is cheap, is currently readily available, and does not affect the environment.







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