Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), ACTH Stimulation

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Turnaround Time: 4 - 6 days
CPT Code:


Test Type: 1 mL (each specimen) Serum


Evaluate adrenal carcinomas that frequently secrete large amounts of DHEA. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid that is produced by both the adrenal cortex and testis.1 The levels of this steroid increase before the onset of puberty (adrenarche) and decrease significantly with age.2,3 DHEA and DHEA-S are the major precursors of 17-ketosteroids.

1. de Peretti E, Forest M. Unconjugated dehydroepiandrosterone plasma levels in normal subjects from birth to adolescence in humans: The use of a sensitive radioimmunoassay. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Nov; 43(5):982-991. PubMed 186482

2. Ducharme JR, Forest MG, De Peretti E, Sempé M, Collu R, Bertrand J. Plasma adrenal and gonadal sex steroids in human pubertal development. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Mar; 42(3):468-476. PubMed 130382

3. Carlstrom K, Brady S, Lunell NO, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate and dehydroepiandrosterone in serum: Differences related to age and sex. Maturitas. 1988 Dec; 10(4):297-306. PubMed 2976116

Tietz NW, ed. Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co;1995:195-196.

Collection Details:

Collection Instructions:

Draw blood for baseline DHEA. Inject cosyntropin 250 μg IM or IV (if IV, dilute cosyntropin in 2 to 5 mL of sterile saline and inject over two minutes). Draw blood for stimulated DHEA 60 minutes after. See the online Endocrine Appendix: ACTH Stimulation for expected values for various steroids at baseline and after ACTH stimulation.

Red-top tube or gel-barrier tube.

If a red-top tube is used, transfer separated serum to a plastic transport tube. Note: Label each tube with the patient's name, collection time, and date. Submit specimens simultaneously on the same test request form.