Leydig cell hypoplasia (LCH) is a rare autosomal recessive condition that interferes with normal development of male external genitalia in 46,XY individuals and is caused by inactivating mutations of the LH receptor gene. The clinical and biochemical diagnostic parameters of LCH are not always specific and may therefore show significant overlap with other causes of insufficient testicular steroid biosynthesis. We have studied a 46,XY newborn with completely female external genitalia and palpable testes. Due to an increased basal serum ratio of androstenedione/testosterone, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 3 (17β-HSD 3) deficiency was initially suspected. DNA analysis of the corresponding HSD17B3 gene, however, showed no abnormalities in the entire coding region. In contrast, direct sequencing of the LH receptor gene revealed a novel homozygous single nucleotide insertion in exon 11 (codon A589fs) producing a frame shift in the open reading frame predicting for premature termination of translation 17 amino acids downstream. From the genetic perspective, this mutation represents the first frame shift mutation in the LH receptor gene ever reported to date. From the clinical standpoint, LCH should always be considered in the differential diagnosis as steroid profiles may not be informative. Therefore, molecular genetic analysis should be warranted for androgen biosynthesis defects in all cases.
A Richter-Unruh, E Korsch, O Hiort, P M Holterhus, A P Themmen and S A Wudy
L Audí, S F Ahmed, N Krone, M Cools, K McElreavey, P M Holterhus, A Greenfield, A Bashamboo, O Hiort, S A Wudy, R McGowan and the EU COST Action
The differential diagnosis of differences or disorders of sex development (DSD) belongs to the most complex fields in medicine. It requires a multidisciplinary team conducting a synoptic and complementary approach consisting of thorough clinical, hormonal and genetic workups. This position paper of EU COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action BM1303 ‘DSDnet’ was written by leading experts in the field and focuses on current best practice in genetic diagnosis in DSD patients. Ascertainment of the karyotpye defines one of the three major diagnostic DSD subclasses and is therefore the mandatory initial step. Subsequently, further analyses comprise molecular studies of monogenic DSD causes or analysis of copy number variations (CNV) or both. Panels of candidate genes provide rapid and reliable results. Whole exome and genome sequencing (WES and WGS) represent valuable methodological developments that are currently in the transition from basic science to clinical routine service in the field of DSD. However, in addition to covering known DSD candidate genes, WES and WGS help to identify novel genetic causes for DSD. Diagnostic interpretation must be performed with utmost caution and needs careful scientific validation in each DSD case.
A Kulle, N Krone, P M Holterhus, G Schuler, R F Greaves, A Juul, Y B de Rijke, M F Hartmann, A Saba, O Hiort, S A Wudy and on behalf of the EU COST Action
Disorders or differences in sex development (DSD) comprise a heterogeneous group of conditions with an atypical sex development. For optimal diagnosis, highly specialised laboratory analyses are required across European countries. Working group 3 of EU COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action BM 1303 ‘DSDnet’ ‘Harmonisation of Laboratory Assessment’ has developed recommendations on laboratory assessment for DSD regarding the use of technologies and analytes to be investigated. This position paper on steroid hormone analysis in diagnosis and treatment of DSD was compiled by a group of specialists in DSD and/or hormonal analysis, either from participating European countries or international partner countries. The topics discussed comprised analytical methods (immunoassay/mass spectrometry-based methods), matrices (urine/serum/saliva) and harmonisation of laboratory tests. The following positions were agreed upon: support of the appropriate use of immunoassay- and mass spectrometry-based methods for diagnosis and monitoring of DSD. Serum/plasma and urine are established matrices for analysis. Laboratories performing analyses for DSD need to operate within a quality framework and actively engage in harmonisation processes so that results and their interpretation are the same irrespective of the laboratory they are performed in. Participation in activities of peer comparison such as sample exchange or when available subscribing to a relevant external quality assurance program should be achieved. The ultimate aim of the guidelines is the implementation of clinical standards for diagnosis and appropriate treatment of DSD to achieve the best outcome for patients, no matter where patients are investigated or managed.
G G Lavery, J Idkowiak, M Sherlock, I Bujalska, J P Ride, K Saqib, M F Hartmann, B Hughes, S A Wudy, J De Schepper, W Arlt, N Krone, C H Shackleton, E A Walker and P M Stewart
Inactivating mutations in the enzyme hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH, encoded by H6PD) cause apparent cortisone reductase deficiency (ACRD). H6PDH generates cofactor NADPH for 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1, encoded by HSD11B1) oxo-reductase activity, converting cortisone to cortisol. Inactivating mutations in HSD11B1 cause true cortisone reductase deficiency (CRD). Both ACRD and CRD present with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation and adrenal hyperandrogenism.
To describe the clinical, biochemical and molecular characteristics of two additional female children with ACRD and to illustrate the diagnostic value of urinary steroid profiling in identifying and differentiating a total of six ACRD and four CRD cases.
Clinical, biochemical and genetic assessment of two female patients presenting during childhood. In addition, results of urinary steroid profiling in a total of ten ACRD/CRD patients were compared to identify distinguishing characteristics.
Case 1 was compound heterozygous for R109AfsX3 and a novel P146L missense mutation in H6PD. Case 2 was compound heterozygous for novel nonsense mutations Q325X and Y446X in H6PD. Mutant expression studies confirmed loss of H6PDH activity in both cases. Urinary steroid metabolite profiling by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry suggested ACRD in both cases. In addition, we were able to establish a steroid metabolite signature differentiating ACRD and CRD, providing a basis for genetic diagnosis and future individualised management.
Steroid profile analysis of a 24-h urine collection provides a diagnostic method for discriminating between ACRD and CRD. This will provide a useful tool in stratifying unresolved adrenal hyperandrogenism in children with premature adrenarche and adult females with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).