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Serap Turan, Abdullah Bereket, Tulay Guran, Teoman Akcay, Mahboubeh Papari-Zareei and Richard J Auchus

Objective

17-Hydroxylase/17,20-lyase deficiency (17OHD) results from mutations in the CYP17A1 gene, leading to failure to synthesize cortisol, adrenal androgens, and gonadal steroids. Adrenarche is a consequence of the increased production of adrenal androgens. Here, we report a case carrying novel R239Q mutation causing complete functional loss of CYP17A1, and thus absence of adrenal and gonadal sex hormone production. The patient has had unexpected pubic hair development and insufficient breast development with estrogen replacement therapy. Possible mechanisms leading to pubic hair development and breast underdevelopment are discussed.

Patient and methods

A 15-year-old female born to consanguineous parents presented with the lack of full breast development and irregular menses after the age of 14 years. She had Tanner III breast development on one side, Tanner I on the other side and Tanner I pubic hair and, no axillary hair development. The serum levels of FSH, LH, and progesterone were high and, estradiol was low. The measurement of basal and ACTH-stimulated steroids was consistent with the diagnosis of 17OHD. Genetic analysis revealed novel homozygous mutation R239Q in CYP17A1 gene. Therapy with hydrocortisone was initiated and followed by the addition of conjugated estrogen. Her breast development did not improve considerably, however, pubic hair development started after estrogen treatment in spite of undetectable serum levels of androgens.

Conclusion

This case study suggests that estrogen exerts a permissive effect on pubic hair development in girls, even in the presence of very low-circulating androgens, and impaired breast development might be due to estrogen/progesterone imbalance in breast tissue.

Free access

Tao Wang, Fumitoshi Satoh, Ryo Morimoto, Yasuhiro Nakamura, Hironobu Sasano, Richard J Auchus, Michael A Edwards and William E Rainey

Background

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is the most common form of endocrine hypertension affecting ∼8–10% of hypertensive subjects. Aldosterone production in PA occurs under low-renin conditions, and the mechanisms that maintain the production of aldosterone in PA remain unknown.

Objective

This study was designed to compare the transcript profiles between aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) and their adjacent adrenal gland (AAG) from the same adrenal.

Methods

Total RNA was extracted from ten APA and ten AAG; and subsequently analyzed by microarray and real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qPCR). The microarray data were paired for each APA–AAG, and analyzed by GeneSpring GX 11 with paired t-test and fold change calculations for each transcript. Changes identified by microarray analysis were confirmed by qPCR.

Results

Microarray analysis indicated that 14 genes had significantly up-regulated expression in APA compared to AAG. Among the elevated genes were aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) as well as novel transcription factors, calmodulin-binding proteins, and other genes that have not been previously studied in APA. Selective analysis of 11 steroidogenic enzymes using microarray demonstrated that only CYP11B2 showed a significantly higher transcript level in APA compared to AAG (P<0.001). In contrast, AKR1C3 (17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5), CYP17 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase), and CYB5 (cytochrome b5) showed significantly lower transcript level in APA (P<0.05).

Conclusion

The transcriptome analysis of APA compared with AAG showed several novel genes that are associated with APA phenotype. This gene list provides new candidates for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms leading to PA.

Restricted access

Connor Wright, Patrick O’Day, Mohammed Alyamani, Nima Sharifi and Richard J Auchus

Context

The human adrenal is the dominant source of androgens in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OHD). Abiraterone, derived from the prodrug abiraterone acetate (AA), inhibits the activity of cytochrome P450 17-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (CYP17A1), the enzyme required for all androgen biosynthesis. AA treatment effectively lowers testosterone and androstenedione in 21OHD and CRPC patients. The 11-oxygenated androgens are major adrenal-derived androgens, yet little is known regarding the effects of AA administration on 11-oxygenated androgens.

Objective

To test the hypothesis that AA therapy decreases 11-oxygenated androgens.

Design

Samples were obtained from 21OHD or CRPC participants in AA or AA plus prednisone (AAP)-treatment studies, respectively.

Methods

We employed liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to measure the 11-oxygenated androgens, 11β-hydroxyandrostenedione, 11-ketoandrostenedione, 11β-hydroxytestosterone, and 11-ketotestosterone, in plasma or serum samples from six 21OHD and six CRPC patients before and after treatment with AA or AAP, respectively.

Results

In CRPC patients, administration of AAP (1000 mg/day AA with prednisone and medical castration) lowered all four 11-oxygenated androgens to below the lower limits of quantitation (<0.1–0.3 nmol/L), equivalent to 64–94% reductions from baseline. In 21OHD patients, administration of AA (100–250 mg/day for 6 days) reduced all 11-oxygenated androgens by on average 56–77% from baseline.

Conclusions

We conclude that AA and AAP therapies markedly reduce the production of the adrenal-derived 11-oxygenated androgens, both in patients with high (21OHD) or normal (CRPC) 11-oxygenated androgens at baseline, respectively. Reduction of 11-oxygenated androgens is an important aspect of AA and AAP pharmacology.

Free access

Adina F Turcu, Aya T Nanba, Robert Chomic, Sunil K Upadhyay, Thomas J Giordano, James J Shields, Deborah P Merke, William E Rainey and Richard J Auchus

Abstract

Objective

To comprehensively characterize androgens and androgen precursors in classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OHD) and to gain insights into the mechanisms of their formation.

Design

Serum samples were obtained from 38 patients (19 men) with classic 21OHD, aged 3–59, and 38 sex- and age-matched controls; 3 patients with 11β-hydroxylase deficiency; 4 patients with adrenal insufficiency; and 16 patients (8 men) undergoing adrenal vein sampling. Paraffin-embedded normal (n = 5) and 21OHD adrenal tissues (n = 3) were used for immunohistochemical studies.

Methods

We measured 11 steroids in all sera by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Immunofluroescence localized 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD3B2) and cytochrome b5 (CYB5A) within the normal and 21OHD adrenals.

Results

Four 11-oxygenated 19-carbon (11oxC19) steroids were significantly higher in male and female 21OHD patients than in controls: 11β-hydroxyandrostenedione, 11-ketoandrostenedione 11β-hydroxytestosterone, and 11-ketotestosterone (3–4-fold, P < 0.0001). For 21OHD patients, testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone were positively correlated in females, but inversely correlated in males. All 11oxC19 steroids were higher in the adrenal vein than in the inferior vena cava samples from men and women and rose with cosyntropin stimulation. Only trace amounts of 11oxC19 steroids were found in the sera of patients with 11β-hydroxylase deficiency and adrenal insufficiency, confirming their adrenal origin. HSD3B2 and CYB5A immunoreactivities were sharply segregated in the normal adrenal glands, whereas areas of overlapping expression were identified in the 21OHD adrenals.

Conclusions

All four 11oxC19 steroids are elevated in both men and women with classic 21OHD. Our data suggest that 11oxC19 steroids are specific biomarkers of adrenal-derived androgen excess.