Prevalence of late-onset adrenal hyperplasia in postmenarchal hirsutism

P. Motta, A. Catania, L. Airaghi, I. Mangone, L. Cantalamessa, C. Zanussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The response of plasma 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) to exogenous ACTH was investigated in 85 consecutive women referred for postmenarchal hirsutism, in order to assess the prevalence of late-onset adrenal hyperplasia due to 21 -hydroxylase deficiency and its relevance to the clinical practice. An exaggerated response of plasma 17-OHP to ACTH, indicating 21-hydroxylase deficiency, was found in only one patient with a prevalence of 1.1 %. The patient with late-onset adrenal hyperplasia presented signs of virilism and had high basal levels of 17-OHP. On the basis of our results, late-onset adrenal hyperplasia accounts for a very small proportion of cases of hirsutism; moreover, from this and previous studies it is apparent that the determination of basal plasma 17-OHP may be sufficient to discover late-onset 21-hydroxylase deficiency. Therefore, we do not consider ACTH testing an advisable step in the routine screening for hirsutism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-678
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1988


  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • hirsutism
  • late-onset 21-hydroxylase deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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