Context: Most patients with pediatric-onset primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI), such as 21-hydroxylase deficiency, can be diagnosed by measuring the urine or serum levels of steroid metabolites. However, the etiology is often difficult to determine in a subset of patients lacking characteristic biochemical findings. Objective: To assess the frequency of genetic defects in Japanese children with biochemically uncharacterized PAI and characterize the phenotypes of mutation-carrying patients. Methods: We enrolled 63 Japanese children (59 families) with biochemically uncharacterized PAI, and sequenced 12 PAI-associated genes. The pathogenicities of rare variants were assessed based on in silico analyses and structural modeling. We calculated the proportion of mutation-carrying patients according to demographic characteristics. Results: We identified genetic defects in 50 (85%) families: STAR in 19, NR0B1 in 18, SAMD9 in seven, AAAS in two, NNT in two, MC2R in one and CDKN1C in one. NR0B1 defects were identified in 78% of the male patients that received both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy and had normal male external genitalia. STAR defects were identified in 67% of female and 9% of male patients. Seven of the 19 patients with STAR defects developed PAI at age two or older, out of whom, five did not have mineralocorticoid deficiency. Conclusions: Molecular testing elucidated the etiologies of most biochemically uncharacterized PAI patients. Genetic defects such as NR0B1 defects are presumed based on phenotypes, while others with broad phenotypic variability, such as STAR defects, are difficult to diagnose. Molecular testing is a rational approach to diagnosis in biochemically uncharacterized PAI patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism