Monitoring of therapy in congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Clin Chem. 2010 Aug;56(8):1245-51. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2010.146035. Epub 2010 Jun 17.


Background: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a group of disorders caused by defects in the adrenal steroidogenic pathways. In its most common form, 21-hydroxylase deficiency, patients develop varying degrees of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid deficiency as well as androgen excess. Therapy is guided by monitoring clinical parameters as well as adrenal hormone and metabolite concentrations.

Content: We review the evidence for clinical and biochemical parameters used in monitoring therapy for congenital adrenal hyperplasia. We discuss the utility of 24-h urine collections for pregnanetriol and 17-ketosteroids as well as serum measurements of 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, and testosterone. In addition, we examine the added value of daily hormonal profiles obtained from salivary or blood-spot samples and discuss the limitations of the various assays.

Summary: Clinical parameters such as growth velocity and bone age remain the gold standard for monitoring the adequacy of therapy in congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The use of 24-h urine collections for pregnanetriol and 17-ketosteroid may offer an integrated view of adrenal hormone production but target concentrations must be better defined. Random serum hormone measurements are of little value and fluctuate with time of day and timing relative to glucocorticoid administration. Assays of daily hormonal profiles from saliva or blood spots offer a more detailed assessment of therapeutic control, although salivary assays have variable quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 17-Ketosteroids / urine
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone / urine
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / therapy*
  • Androstenedione / urine
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Bone Development
  • Catecholamines / deficiency
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Mineralocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Pregnanetriol / urine
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Testosterone / urine


  • 17-Ketosteroids
  • Biomarkers
  • Catecholamines
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Mineralocorticoids
  • Pregnanetriol
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone