Management of adult patients with classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is challenging and often complicated by obesity, metabolic syndrome, and adverse cardiovascular risk. Alterations in weight can influence cortisol kinetics. A 19-year-old woman with classic CAH and morbid obesity experienced persistent elevations of androgen levels while receiving oral glucocorticoid therapy. Control of adrenal androgens was improved with continuous subcutaneous hydrocortisone infusion therapy, but obesity-related comorbidities persisted. After undergoing sleeve gastrectomy, the patient experienced dramatic weight loss, with improvement in insulin sensitivity and fatty liver in the postbariatric period. Cortisol clearance studies performed to evaluate changes in hydrocortisone dose requirements showed marked alternations in cortisol pharmacokinetics with decreases in volume of distribution and cortisol clearance, along with an increase in area under the curve for cortisol. Hydrocortisone dose was subsequently decreased 34% by 15 months after surgery. Effective control of androgen excess on this lower hydrocortisone dose was achieved and continues 27 months after surgery. This case highlights obesity-related complications of glucocorticoid replacement therapy in the management of CAH. Individual patient factors, such as fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, can have a clinically important effect on cortisol metabolism. Bariatric surgery was a safe and effective treatment of obesity in this patient with CAH and should be considered for patients with CAH and multiple obesity-related comorbidities.
Keywords: bariatric; congenital adrenal hyperplasia; cortisol; obesity; pharmacokinetics; pump.