Evidence for reduced 3 beta-ol-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in some hirsute women thought to have polycystic ovary syndrome.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1981 Aug; 53(2):394-400.JC
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 3 beta-ol-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta-ol) deficiency is usually lethal. A partial deficiency in 3 beta-ol has been suggested in some women presenting with androgen excess. In this study, 24 women were investigated who had hirsutism and oligomenorrhea and high serum delta 5 androgens compared to delta 4 androgens. Of these women, 9 had significantly elevated 17-hydroxypregnenolone (17 Preg) to 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17 Prog) ratios when compared to controls under basal conditions. On further testing of 9 women with ACTH, 4 had significantly elevated 17 Preg to 17 Prog ratios. Eight women had elevated ratios of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate to androstenedione, 4 had elevations of androstenediol (Adiol) to testosterone (T), and 4 had abnormal 17 Preg to cortisol ratios. Only 3 women out of the original 24 selected for study had elevated ratios for all 4 different steroid pairs measured. 17 Prog was normal in these women with 3 beta-ol deficiency in contradistinction to the high levels normally observed in women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21- or 11-hydroxylase deficiency. It is suggested that the cause of androgen excess in these women is high circulating levels of Adiol and, in part, the slightly elevated unbound T levels in these women. In conclusion, a subtle, incomplete form of 3 beta-ol deficiency may exist in adult women and is manifest by high delta 5 androgens such as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and Adiol and normal delta 4 androgens such as androstenedione and T.