Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant circulating C19 steroid in humans. Although DHEA itself has very low androgenic activity, it is the major intermediate in the biosynthesis of the more potent androgen and estrogen sex steroids. DHEA is secreted primarily by the adrenal glands, but may also be produced in the gonads and brain. DHEA production is at least partly controlled by adrenocorticotropic hormone acting to stimulate cholesterol delivery to the mitochondria where it is converted to pregnanolone and then to 17-hydroxypregnanolone and finally DHEA by two different cytochrome P450 enzymes. DHEA may then be reversibly converted into a more stable sulfate ester, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) by the enzyme DHEA sulfotransferase.  DHEA-S can be converted back into DHEA by steroid sulfatase.  The bulk of circulating DHEA is found as DHEA-S, and where DHEA levels peak in the early morning hours, DHEA-S shows no diurnal variation.

During pregnancy, DHEA-S and its 16-hydroxylated metabolites are secreted by the fetal adrenal gland in large quantities.  They serve as precursors for placental production of the dominant pregnancy estrogen estriol.  Within weeks after birth, DHEA-S levels fall by 80% or more and remain low until the onset of adrenarche.  The gradual rise in DHEA production is responsible for the androgenic effects seen during adrenarche.  Excess levels of DHEA-S in children can cause precocious puberty in boys, body hair and abnormal menstrual periods in girls, and ambiguous external genitalia in both boys and girls. Additionally, adrenal tumors, cancers and hyperplasia can lead to the overproduction of DHEA-S.  High DHEA-S levels are also observed in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.


  • Sample Range – Measure from 60,000 to 96 pg/mL
  • Samples – Serum, Plasma, Saliva, Urine and Media plus Fecal Extracts
  • Samples/Kit – 41 or 233 in Duplicate
  • Small Sample Size – Just 1 µL of Serum or Plasma

The Arbor Assays DetectX® Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) EIA Kit (Cat.# K054-H) uses a specifically generated antibody to measure DHEA-S in serum, plasma, urine, and saliva. The kit will also measure DHEA-S present in fecal extracts and tissue culture media.  Standards or diluted samples are pipetted into a clear microtiter plate coated with an antibody to capture sheep antibodies.  A DHEA-S-peroxidase conjugate is added to the standards and samples in the wells. The binding reaction is initiated by the addition of a polyclonal antibody to DHEA-S to each well. After a 2-hour incubation, the plate is washed and substrate is added.  The substrate reacts with the DHEA-S peroxidase conjugate.  The intensity of the generated color is detected in a microplate reader at 450nm.




Progesterone EIA Kit, K025-H
17-Hydroxyprogesterone EIA Kits, H053-H
Estradiol EIA Kits, K030-H
Esterone-3-Glucuronide (E1G) EIA Kits, K036-H
Pregnanediol-3-Glucuronide (PDG) EIA Kits, K037-H
Testerone EIA Kits, K032-H

See all REPRODUCTIVE assay kits

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