Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) always require the measurement of several steroids. Patients with CAH due to steroid 21-hydroxylase gene (CYP21A2) mutations usually have very high levels of androstenedione, often 5-fold to 10-fold elevations. 17-Hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHPG) levels are usually even higher, while cortisol levels are low or undetectable. All 3 analytes should be tested.
For the HSD3B2 mutation, cortisol, 17-OHPG and progesterone levels will be will be decreased; 17-hydroxypregnenolone and pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone levels will be increased.
In the much less common CYP11A1 mutation, androstenedione levels are elevated to a similar extent as seen in CYP21A2 mutation, and cortisol also is low, but 17-OHPG is only mildly, if at all, elevated.
In the also very rare 17-hydroxylase deficiency, androstenedione, all other androgen-precursors (17-alpha-hydroxypregnenolone, 17-OHPG, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), androgens (testosterone, estrone, estradiol), and cortisol are low, while production of mineral corticoid and its precursors (in particular pregnenolone, 11-dexycorticosterone, corticosterone, and 18-hydroxycorticosterone) are increased.