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Open Access Open Badges Review Article

Duration of Suppression of Adrenal Steroids after Glucocorticoid Administration

John S Fuqua1*, Deborah Rotenstein2 and Peter A Lee13

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology, James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA

2 Pediatric Alliance, Pittsburgh, PA 15218, USA

3 The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

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International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 2010, 2010:712549  doi:10.1155/2010/712549

Published: 31 March 2010


Hydrocortisone has long been the treatment of choice for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). However, treatment with this medication remains problematic. Patients with 21-hydroxylase deficiency CAH have significant diurnal variation in the secretion of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP). When considering treatment strategies, this variation must be considered along with the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of exogenous glucocorticoids. Orally administered hydrocortisone is highly bioavailable, but it has a short time to maximum concentration () and half life (). While prednisone has a somewhat longer and , they remain relatively short. There have been several studies of the pharmacodynamics of hydrocortisone. We present data indicating that the maximum effect of hydrocortisone in CAH patients is seen 3 hours after a morning dose. After an evening dose, suppression of adrenal hormones continues until approximately 0500 the next day. In both situations, however, there is a large degree of intersubject variability. These data are consistent with earlier published studies. Use of alternate specimen types, possibly in conjunction with delayed release hydrocortisone preparations under development, may allow the practitioner to design a medication regimen that provides improved control of androgen secretion. Whatever dosing strategy is used, clinical judgment is required to ensure the best outcome.