Normative data for adrenal steroidogenesis in a healthy pediatric population: age- and sex-related changes after adrenocorticotropin stimulation

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Sep;73(3):674-86. doi: 10.1210/jcem-73-3-674.


The normal response to a single 0.25-mg dose of ACTH-(1-24) is not well established in infancy or childhood. We report the adrenal steroidogenic responses of 17-hydroxypregnenolone (17OH Preg), 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OH Prog), 11-deoxycortisol, cortisol, deoxycorticosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, androstenedione (A'dione), and testosterone in 102 healthy children who were divided into 5 groups: group 1 (less than 1 yr old; n = 22), group 2 (1-5 yr old; n = 22), group 3 (6-12 yr old; n = 15), group 4 (early-midpuberty; n = 21), and group 5 (late puberty; n = 22). Baseline and stimulated levels of 17OH Preg were significantly higher in group 1 infants than in group 2 children (P less than 0.01). Baseline levels of 17OH Prog increased in late puberty (P less than 0.01). Baseline and stimulated levels of DHEA rose in late puberty (group 5 vs. group 3, P less than 0.01). DHEA levels in late pubertal females were higher than those in their male counterparts (P less than 0.01). DHEA sulfate levels did not change after ACTH administration in any age group. Baseline and stimulated levels of A'dione rose significantly before the onset of puberty in female children (group 2 vs. group 3, P less than 0.01). The calculated ratio of 17OH Preg/17OH Prog in group 1 was significantly higher than that in other groups of children (P less than 0.01). The calculated, baseline DHEA/A'dione ratio was higher in group 1 than in older children (P less than 0.01). Stimulated ratios were higher in late pubertal females than in males (P less than 0.01). In both sexes baseline and stimulated ratios of 17OH Prog/deoxycorticosterone increased in puberty, such that late pubertal children had higher levels than prepubertal children (P less than 0.01). These data confirm the need for interpretation ACTH stimulation test data to be based upon age- and sex-specific norms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 17-alpha-Hydroxypregnenolone / blood
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Glands / drug effects
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism*
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cortodoxone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Desoxycorticosterone / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydroxyprogesterones / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Steroids / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Hydroxyprogesterones
  • Steroids
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxypregnenolone
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Desoxycorticosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Cortodoxone
  • Hydrocortisone