Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: Unresolved issues

Mabel Yau, Ahmed Khattab, Dix Poppas, Lucia Ghizzoni, Maria New

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) describes a family of disorders that comes from enzymatic deficiencies in cortisol production, with 21-hydroxylase deficiency causing ∼90% of cases. Distinction is made between the severe classical form and milder nonclassical form of CAH. Molecular genetic analysis is used to confirm the hormonal diagnosis. A high rate of genotype-phenotype disconcordance has been found in 21-hydroxylase deficiency. The goal of treatment is to replace with synthetic glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids and suppress adrenal androgen production. The treatment of patients affected with nonclassical CAH, particularly males, remains controversial. Variable synthetic glucocorticoids are used and new modes of glucocorticoid delivery are under investigation. To improve height, growth hormone and other adjuvant therapies are employed. Long-term outcomes of genital surgery using modern techniques in females affected with classical CAH continue to be investigated. Prenatal treatment with dexamethasone is available to avoid ambiguous genitalia in these females. Although studies have shown its safety to mother and fetus, prenatal treatment is still regarded as experimental. Currently, prenatal diagnosis of CAH can only be obtained through invasive methods. Recently, the detection of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma has made it possible to make this diagnosis earlier and noninvasively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-195
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers of Hormone Research
StatePublished - 2016


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