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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Feb;87(2):786-90.

Variable ACTH-stimulated 17-hydroxyprogesterone values in 21-hydroxylase deficiency carriers are not related to the different CYP21 gene mutations.

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Unidade de Endocrinologia do Desenvolvimento e Laboratório de Hormônios e Genética Molecular, LIM/42, Disciplina de Endocrinologia, Hospital das Clínicas, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo 05403-900, Brazil.


The currently used cutoff level for ACTH-stimulated 17- hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP) for the diagnosis of the nonclassical (NC) form of 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OHD), established before molecular studies, is based on the mean + 2 SD of 17OHP levels of obligate heterozygotes. However, carriers of CYP21 mutations present variable ACTH-stimulated 17OHP levels, ranging from normal values up to 30 nmol/liter. The aim of this study was to determine whether ACTH-stimulated 17OHP levels in obligate carriers for 21OHD would be correlated with the impairment of the enzyme activity caused by these mutations, which would affect the 17OHP cutoff level for the diagnosis of the NC form. Fifty-nine parents of patients with the classical and NC forms of 21OHD had their DNA screened for the mutations found in the index case and were divided into three mutation groups according to the impairment of enzyme activity (A = 0%, B = 3%, and C > 20%). All parents carried mutations in one allele (29 of group A, 9 of group B, and 21 of group C). Blood samples were collected at baseline condition and 60 min after ACTH (250 microg i.v.) to measure 17OHP levels. The levels among groups A, B, and C were compared using the Kruskall Wallis test. ACTH-stimulated 17OHP levels identified 39% of the carriers (9 in group A, 2 in group B and 12 in group C). The mean +/- SD basal 17OHP levels in groups A, B, and C were: 2.94 +/- 1.89, 1.77 +/- 0.81 and 3.90 +/- 2.43 nmol/liter, respectively (P > 0.05) and for ACTH-stimulated levels were 12.6 +/- 7.2, 13.2 +/- 12.9 and 16.8 +/- 7.8 nmol/liter, respectively (P > 0.05). Two carriers presented ACTH-stimulated 17OHP levels between 30 and 45 nmol/liter and their entire CYP21 sequencing revealed only one mutation in heterozygous state indicating that the current cutoff level might overestimate the diagnosis of the NC form. We conclude that the variable ACTH-stimulated 17-OHP levels in carriers are not related to CYP21 gene mutations with different impairment of enzyme activity.

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