Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis function in pubertal male and female siblings with glucocorticoid-treated nonsalt-wasting 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency congenital adrenal hyperplasia

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Nov;77(5):1251-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.5.8077318.


We report pubertal maturation and dynamic studies of gonadotropin and gonadal hormone secretion in long term glucocorticoid-treated siblings with nonsalt-wasting classic adrenal and gonadal 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta HSD) deficiency. The 18-yr-old female siblings spontaneously developed thelarche and menarche at 10 and 12 yr, respectively, and manifested irregular menses, hirsutism, and polycystic ovaries at 17 yr. The 16-yr-old male sibling spontaneously developed secondary sex characteristics at age 11 yr and exhibited Tanner IV-V pubic hair, a 6.5 x 3.0-cm surgically repaired penis, and enlarged nonnodular testes. Overnight (2200-0700 h) plasma gonadotropin (every 20 min) and gonadal steroid levels (every 2 h) under ACTH adrenal suppression revealed the following. In the male sibling, there were overall normal Tanner V male LH (3-21 mIU/mL) and FSH (1.2-13 mIU/mL) levels, normal peak frequency and amplitude of LH (70 +/- 62 min and 15 +/- 3 mIU/mL, respectively) and FSH (65 +/- 28 min and 13 +/- 3 mIU/mL), and low normal Tanner V testosterone (T) levels (11.4-17.9 nmol/L). In the female sibling, there were normal follicular phase range LH (10-28 mIU/mL) and FSH (5.1-17.2 mIU/mL) levels, normal peak frequency and amplitude of LH (96 +/- 17 min and 22 +/- 4.5 mIU/mL, respectively) and FSH (62 +/- 27 min, 13 +/- 4 mIU/mL), and early follicular phase estradiol (E2) levels (100-170 pmol/L). The LH-releasing hormone-stimulated LH response was in the normal adult range in the male and normal for the early follicular phase in the female. In contrast, ACTH and adrenal delta 5-steroid responses to CRH administration were elevated in each sibling. Gonadal suppression via Norlutin administration (30 mg/day for 3 days) after prolonged adrenal suppression by dexamethasone resulted in suppression of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and E2 in the female and DHEA and T in the male. Gonadal stimulation via hCG administration (5000 IU/day for 3 days, im) during continuous adrenal suppression resulted in a low E2 response in the female (200 pmol/L; control, 295-660 pmol/L) and a low T response in the male (15.3 nmol/L; control, 17-39 nmol/L), whereas delta 5-17-hydroxypregnenolone and DHEA levels rose 2- to 4.7-fold in each sibling. In conclusion, despite partial gonadal 3 beta HSD deficiency, the dynamics of gonadotropin and gonadal hormone secretion in these siblings indicate the absence of increased LH secretion, in contrast to the markedly increased ACTH secretion resulting from adrenal 3 beta HSD deficiency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / deficiency*
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / drug therapy
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / genetics*
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / physiopathology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Gonads / physiology*
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology*
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hormones
  • Sodium Chloride
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases