Metabolic syndrome manifestations in classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia: do they predispose to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and secondary polycystic ovary syndrome?

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1083:37-53. doi: 10.1196/annals.1367.005.


Classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency is a common autosomal recessive disorder characterized by impaired adrenocortical and adrenomedullary function, and adrenal hyperandrogenism. Compared to normal subjects, patients with classic CAH have increased incidence of obesity and visceral adiposity, hyperinsulinism and insulin resistance, hyperleptinemia, hypertension, and hyperandrogenism. It is likely that the impaired adrenomedullary function and intermittent treatment-related hypercortisolism may account for the above abnormalities, and may predispose these subjects to the development of metabolic syndrome-related endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions targeting obesity and/or insulin resistance may offer an improved outcome in terms of cardiovascular morbidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / complications*
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology*
  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase / metabolism


  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase