Present Knowledge on the Etiology and Treatment of Adrenarche

Pediatr Endocrinol Rev. 2018 Mar;15(3):244-254. doi: 10.17458/per.vol15.2018.otw.etiologytreatmentadrenarche.


Premature adrenarche (PA) has been assumed to be a benign variant of normal pubertal development. Yet, current collective information suggests associations between PA and potential risks for development of polycystic ovary syndrome and adult diseases such as the metabolic syndrome. Adrenarche refers to the increased secretion of the adrenal androgen precursors DHEA, DHEAS, and androstenedione, which normally occurs in children at age 6-8 years. PA may be identified clinically by early pubarche, which is defined as the development of pubic or axillary hair before 8 years in girls or 9 years in boys. This paper will consider adrenal steroidogenesis, genetic markers, neurobiological changes, skeletal maturation, and associations with adult disorders. The differential diagnosis will be reviewed because PA remains a diagnosis of exclusion. Finally, synthesis of current knowledge regarding PA, suggestions for evaluation, management, and treatment are offered.

Keywords: Adrenal androgens; Adrenarche; Metabolic syndrome; Neuroendocrine; PCOS; Pubarche.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenarche*
  • Androgens
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome*
  • Puberty, Precocious*


  • Androgens