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Sex Dev. 2007;1(3):147-51. doi: 10.1159/000102103.

Early diagnosis of 5alpha-reductase deficiency in newborns.

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  • 1Adolescent Medicine Unit, Division of Pediatrics, S. Chiara Hospital, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.


5Alpha-reductase-2 deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive form of 46,XY disorders of sex differentiation (DSD), caused by mutations in the steroid 5alpha-reductase type 2 gene (SRD5A2), presenting at birth with variable degrees of undervirilization. We report on three Italian newborns with 46,XY DSD in whom the evaluation of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, testosterone/dihydrotestosterone (T/DHT) ratio and molecular analysis of the 5alpha-reductase type 2 gene was made in their first month of life. Baseline T/DHT ratio suggested 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency; the diagnosis was confirmed by molecular genetics (homozygous mutation in exon 4 [G196S], heterozygous mutation in exon 1 and 5 [W35X/Y235F], heterozygous mutation plus polymorphism in exon 1 [G34W/A49T]). Proper investigation permitted early reassignment to male sex in two babies, assigned to female sex just after birth. In infancy, the T/DHT ratio, assessed by suitable assay methods and evaluated by age-appropriate reference values, seems to be able to select newborns affected by 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency. Molecular analysis of the SRD5A2 gene should be warranted in newborns with abnormal ratio before sex assignment.

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