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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1986 Aug;63(2):360-7.

A new inherited variant of the 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase deficiency syndrome: evidence for the existence of two isoenzymes.


The clinical and endocrine features of a unique form of adrenal insufficiency secondary to an inherited deficiency of 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase (3-HSD) were studied. The propositus was a 19-yr-old man with a history of repeated episodes of acute adrenal crisis. Family study disclosed that a 6-yr-old female sibling also was affected, and a third sibling had died during the course of an adrenal crisis. The diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency was established on the basis of extremely low serum cortisol levels and urinary 17-hydroxycorticosteroid excretion with concomitantly elevated serum ACTH levels and lack of cortisol response to ACTH administration. Impairment of C-21 steroid 3-HSD activity was strongly suggested by persistency elevated serum 17-hydroxypregnenolone to 17-hydroxyprogesterone and pregnenolone to progesterone ratios, their significant increase after ACTH administration, and their return to normal during cortisol therapy in both patients. Nevertheless, the serum dehydroepiandrosterone to androstenedione ratio, both basally and after ACTH and/or hCG stimulation, was normal. These findings coupled with the normal phenotypic development and onset of puberty in the two patients indicated intact C-19 steroid 3-HSD activity. The overall results indicate an inherited impairment of 3-HSD activity confined only to C-21 steroid substrates and, thus, suggest the existence of at least two 3-HSD isoenzymes under independent genetic regulation.

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