UW Bothell research on aggression in birds has implications for humans taking DHEA supplement

University of Washington Bothell research into the hormone DHEA and aggression in songbirds indicates the hormone alters regions of the brain that regulate social behavior.

  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016 2:41pm
  • News

University of Washington Bothell - Contributed art

University of Washington Bothell research into the hormone DHEA and aggression in songbirds indicates the hormone alters regions of the brain that regulate social behavior. That could have implications for people who take DHEA as a health supplement.

The peer-reviewed paper by Douglas Wacker, assistant professor of animal behavior in the School of STEM biological sciences division, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology and released online. Two of his former students who graduated with degrees in biology, Lindsey J. Jones and Sahar Khalaj, are co-authors.

The researchers implanted DHEA in male song sparrows, measured their aggressive behavior – singing, fluffing feathers and spreading the tail – and later analyzed their brains under a microscope. They concluded that long-term use has the potential to change neural networks in the brain.

“If I was a body builder or a patient taking DHEA, I’d want to know this information,” Wacker said.

DHEA is sold over the counter as a health supplement to build muscle, fight aging and increase sex drive. The performance enhancing drug is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The drug is legal, but users are advised to check with a physician because of side effects.

The songbird research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and funded in part by National Science Foundation grants.

More in News

King County charter update targets police oversight, elections, council size

A commission is reviewing the county’s charter and will make recommendations by May.

Primrose School of West Bellevue saw a second location in Washington open in 2018. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Parents are feeling the pinch of child care costs

A King County report charts ways the county could reduce child care costs and boost access.

Law would prohibit eye tattoos in Washington state

Canada has already banned this procedure

Split Washington in two? 51st state movement highlights cultural divide

Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane introduces bill to establish state in Eastern Washington called Liberty

Northshore School District feeds families during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Northshore School District served more than 2,000 meals to families in need throughout the district.

Bothell neighbors irked by colleges’ parking garage plan

Five floors and 600 stalls would address a shortage for students of UW Bothell and Cascadia College.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Responders rescue man pinned under garbage truck in Kenmore

He spent more than an hour beneath the vehicle, authorities say.

Most Read