Flutamide decreases cortisol clearance in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Jul;87(7):3197-200. doi: 10.1210/jcem.87.7.8652.


Classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency is characterized by a defect in cortisol and aldosterone secretion and adrenal hyperandrogenism. Current treatment is to provide adequate glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid substitution to prevent adrenal crises and to suppress excess adrenal androgen secretion. Satisfactory adrenocortical suppression often requires supraphysiological doses of hydrocortisone, which may produce an unacceptable degree of hypercortisolism. A new four-drug treatment regimen of flutamide, testolactone, reduced hydrocortisone dose, and 9alpha-fludrocortisone has been shown to achieve normal growth and development after 2 yr of therapy and may, therefore, represent a potential alternative approach to the treatment of children with classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia. We investigated the effect of flutamide and testolactone, and flutamide alone, on cortisol clearance by performing clearance studies twice in 13 children (6 males and 7 females; age range, 7.0-14.5 yr) with classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency. All studies were conducted at least 3 months after institution of the four-drug treatment regimen. In eight patients (group 1), the first cortisol clearance study was performed on the four-drug regimen, and the second study was performed after a 48-h washout period off flutamide and testolactone. In five patients (group 2), the first study was conducted 1 wk after discontinuation of testolactone and while patients were receiving flutamide, hydrocortisone and 9alpha-fludrocortisone, and the second study was performed after a 48-h washout period off flutamide. Oral hydrocortisone was held on the day of the clearance studies, and all patients received a continuous infusion of hydrocortisone (0.6 mg/m(2).h) from 1800 h to 0200 h, with cortisol concentrations measured once hourly. In addition, an in vitro study was conducted to exclude the possibility of an analytical interference of flutamide, 2-hydroxyflutamide, and testolactone with the serum cortisol immunoassay. Total body cortisol clearance was significantly lower during treatment with the four-drug regimen than during treatment with hydrocortisone and 9alpha-fludrocortisone (153.5 +/- 26.8 vs.355.4 +/- 65.8 ml/min; P = 0.001). Similar results were obtained comparing flutamide, hydrocortisone, and 9alpha-fludrocortisone therapy to hydrocortisone and 9alpha-fludrocortisone therapy (155.8 +/- 26.5 vs. 281.8 +/- 96.2 ml/min; P = 0.037). The in vitro study indicated that an interference with the serum cortisol immunoassay was unlikely. These findings indicate that the addition of flutamide and testolactone to the treatment regimen of hydrocortisone and 9alpha-fludrocortisone decreases cortisol clearance in patients with classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency, and this effect seems to be due to flutamide. Glucocorticoid replacement doses should be reduced when flutamide is added to the treatment regimen of patients receiving hydrocortisone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / drug therapy*
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / etiology
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / metabolism*
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cortisone / administration & dosage
  • Cortisone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cortisone / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Flutamide / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Hydrocortisone / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications
  • Testolactone / therapeutic use


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Testolactone
  • Flutamide
  • 9-fluorocortisone
  • Cortisone
  • Hydrocortisone