Know Cancer

forgot password

Adrenal Hyperplasia Among Young Women With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

16 Years
29 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Adrenal Hyperplasia, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Oligomenorrhea, Obesity, Hyperandrogenism

Thank you

Trial Information

Adrenal Hyperplasia Among Young Women With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous group of disorders presenting with
hyperandrogenism in adolescents and young women. The etiology of this condition remains
unknown, despite its many identified links to insulin resistance, hypertension and metabolic
syndrome, as well as its potential connection to the various forms of congenital adrenal
hyperplasia (CAH).

The adrenal glands are the only source in the body of adrenocortical steroids. In normal
physiology, the pituitary hormone ACTH regulates the secretion of glucocorticoids, while the
secretion of mineralocorticoids is controlled by the renin-angiotensin system. In addition
to these two steroids, the adrenal gland secretes lesser amounts of intermediate metabolites
of these steroids, as well as the sex-steroids DHEA, DHEAS, androstenedione, testosterone,
estrogen, and estrone. Dysregulated secretion of any of these hormones can be caused by the
development of hyperplasia of the adrenocortical tissue, which may be mild and lead to
specific clinical syndromes depending on the identity of the secreted hormones. Bilateral
adrenocortical hyperplasia (BAH) is now an increasingly diagnosed cause of adrenal

We propose that there is a subgroup of patients with PCOS who actually have non-CAH primary
forms of BAH. To investigate this possibility, we propose to study the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) over the next 2 years in 120 young girls and
women (ages 16 to 25 years) that we will compare to 30 age- and race-matched normal females.
Patients will be recruited primarily (although not exclusively) from a busy New York City
clinic run by the Pediatric Endocrine Division at the Infants and Children's Hospital of
Brooklyn at Maimonides and SUNY Downstate. All patients will undergo standard testing of the
HPAA including oral low- and high-dose dexamethasone (DEX)-suppression testing (Liddle's
test). Paradoxical rise of cortisol and/or other steroid metabolites in response to DEX is
considered a sensitive test for the diagnosis of BAH. Patients with such responses will be
molecularly investigated for the known causes of BAH (GNAS, PRKAR1A, PDE11A, PDE8B and other

The first goal of this study is to identify any possible contributions of the BAH phenotypes
and genotypes to the pathophysiology of PCOS, a yet unknown factor in the etiology of this
multifaceted disorder. The second goal is to perform a comparative analysis of the
expression of large sets of genes in cells of these patients using gene arrays and other
genetic analyses. This study will generate important information about the molecular
pathways that are affected in this subgroup of patients with PCOS. Thirdly, this study will
also allow for the collection of DNA from affected and non-affected relatives of the
patients to perform genetic studies and identify causative genetic defects. Finally, the
study is expected to lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic methods for at least certain
forms of PCOS.

Inclusion Criteria


Women 16-29 years old with PCOS defined as biochemical hyperandrogenism with associated
findings of either menstrual irregularity and /or polycystic ovaries on ultrasound;
hyperandrogenism defined as elevation of any of the following

androgens: free testosterone, total testosterone, DHEAS, DHEA,17 0H progesterone,
androstenedione, 17OH pregnenolone; a polycystic ovary on ultrasound should either have 12
follicles measuring 2-9 mm in diameter, or have an increased ovarian volume

of 10 CC or greater; menstrual irregularity defined as: Amenorrhea refers to absence of
bleeding for at least three usual cycle lengths; oligomenorrhea refers to bleeding that
occurs at an interval greater than 35 days.

We would like patients to have oligomenorrhea for at least six usual cycle lengths.
Patients have to be off oral contraceptive pills or any other medications that alter
steroidogenesis for at least one month prior to participating in the study


Women 18-29 years old with normal menstrual function; they have to be off oral
contraceptive pills or any other medications that alter steroidogenesis for at least one
month prior to participating in the study.


Patients who have hyperandrogenism due to 21 hydroxylase deficiency non- classic adrenal
hyperplasia androgen secreting neoplasms

Women with known or suspected androgenic/anabolic drug use

Women with severe insulin resistance-acanthosis nigricans syndrome; Fasting insulin levels
are obtained to rule out syndromes of severe insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism; if
insulin is above 80 mU/mL in the fasting state, and/or > 300 mU/mL following a 2- or
3-hour oral glucose tolerance test (obtained elsewhere), patients are not eligible.

Women with thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia, less than 2 years post menarche, and
patients on medications that alter steroidogenesis such as oral contraceptive pills, for
less than a month prior to the date of inclusion in the study. (see above: patients have
to be off oral contraceptive pills or any other medications that alter steroidogenesis for
at least one month prior to participating in the study)

Women with prior history of pregnancy.


Young women with hyperandrogenemia, hirsutism or known adrenal tumors or other endocrine
diseases, patients on multiple medications, known insulin resistance, or any other chronic
or acute illness are not eligible as controls for this study.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Time Perspective: Prospective

Principal Investigator

Maya B Lodish, M.D.

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

March 2011

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Oligomenorrhea
  • Obesity
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Oligomenorrhea
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia
  • Obesity
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • PCOS
  • Polycystic Ovary
  • Healthy Volunteer
  • HV
  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital
  • Adrenogenital Syndrome
  • Adrenocortical Hyperfunction
  • Hyperplasia
  • Obesity
  • Oligomenorrhea
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Hyperandrogenism



National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland  20892