Premature adrenarche is a condition characterized by precocious development of pubic and/or axillary hair, due to early onset of adrenal androgen secretion. Girls with premature adrenarche may later develop menstrual irregularities, hyperandrogenism, and the classic polycystic ovary syndrome. As leptin is thought to modulate the onset of pubertal development, we measured plasma leptin levels in 7 girls with premature adrenarche, and 8 age-matched comparison girls. Because leptin, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axes are functionally interrelated, we also determined salivary and plasma cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA-sulfate, androstenedione, estradiol, and estrone. Finally, since IGF-I may play a role in adrenocortical function, we determined plasma levels of IGF-1, and IGF-BP1. Plasma was collected by an intravenous catheter at times 0, 20, and 40 min, starting at 1.30 p.m. Girls with premature adrenarche had a higher body mass index (BMI) and an over two-fold elevation of their plasma leptin than comparison girls. This group also had elevated levels of salivary and plasma cortisol, and increased levels of DHEA, DHEA-S, androstenedione, estradiol and estrone. Plasma IGF-1 and the ratio of IGF-1/IGF-BP1 were elevated. We propose that girls with premature adrenarche may represent an overlapping group characterized by both features of increased adiposity and HPA axis activity, which together, and depending on the genetic/constitutional background of the individual, may account for the development of adrenal hyperandrogenism, and, later, the polycystic ovary syndrome.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical