Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Women With Premature Menopause At Increased Risk For Potentially Fatal Adrenal Condition

Date:
September 2, 2002
Source:
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development
Summary:
Women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure (POF) are three hundred times more likely than members of the general population to develop a serious condition in which the body attacks the adrenal glands, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study also reports that a test measuring immune system proteins known as antibodies is an effective way to diagnose the adrenal condition in women with spontaneous POF.

Women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure (POF) are three hundred times more likely than members of the general population to develop a serious condition in which the body attacks the adrenal glands, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study also reports that a test measuring immune system proteins known as antibodies is an effective way to diagnose the adrenal condition in women with spontaneous POF. The researchers published their findings in the August issue of Human Reproduction. Premature ovarian failure occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs and reproductive hormones well in advance of natural menopause. An estimated one percent of American women develop the condition by age 40.

Primary auto-immune adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison's disease, occurs when the body's own immune system makes antibodies that attack and destroy the adrenal glands. Antibodies ordinarily bind to disease-causing organisms, tagging them for later destruction by the immune system. The adrenal glands produce hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) that regulate salt metabolism and the body's response to stress. Addison's disease is easily treated with medication that replaces the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making. However, if a person with untreated adrenal insufficiency experiences a stressful event, like a severe illness, injury, or surgery, he or she can die from the condition. Despite the fact that adrenal insufficiency can be life threatening, there has been ongoing debate in the medical community as how to best detect this condition in the early stages.

"This study shows that an adrenal antibody test is an effective way to determine if women with POF are at risk for primary auto-immune adrenal insufficiency," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD.

The researchers, led by V.K. Bakalov, M.D., a member of the Developmental Endocrinology Branch at the NICHD, screened 123 women with POF for primary adrenal insufficiency. They used three different testing mechanisms to screen for the disease: 1) the adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test (the standard test for diagnosing adrenal insufficiency); 2) the adrenal antibody test; and 3) the morning cortisol test. In all, the researchers found that four (3.2 percent) of the 123 women with POF had previously undetected adrenal insufficiency. These women had abnormal adrenal function despite having none of the common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as unusual tiredness and weakness, dizziness when standing, loss of appetite, darkened skin, and craving for salt. The rate of adrenal insufficiency among women with POF in this study is 300 times higher than the 1 in 10,000 rate seen in the general population.

The researchers found that one of the three tests — the adrenal antibody test — was most effective in detecting adrenal insufficiency in women with POF. In fact, all four of the women with demonstrated adrenal insufficiency had a positive adrenal antibody test. In contrast, the morning cortisol test was positive in only one of the four women who was subsequently found to have adrenal insufficiency. In addition, the morning cortisol test had a high rate of false positives, finding ten women positive who were later found to have normal adrenal function. Finally, the standard ACTH test was positive in two women found to have normal adrenal function. The authors do not advise using the ACTH test, which is a diagnostic test, as a screening tool because it may result in the unnecessary treatment of individuals with normal adrenal function. Instead, they recommend reserving it for use as a diagnostic test.

"It is probably a good idea to screen all women with POF for the presence of asymptomatic adrenal insufficiency by measuring adrenal antibodies," said Lawrence Nelson, M.D., one of the study's authors and a member of NICHD's Unit on Gynecologic Endocrinology. "This screening is especially important before any surgery or other physical stress."

The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health, the biomedical research arm of the federal government. The Institute sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. NICHD publications, as well as information about the Institute, are available from the NICHD Web site, http://www.nichd.nih.gov, or from the NICHD Clearinghouse, 1-800-370-2943; e-mail NICHDClearinghouse@mail.nih.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "Women With Premature Menopause At Increased Risk For Potentially Fatal Adrenal Condition." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020902072043.htm>.
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. (2002, September 2). Women With Premature Menopause At Increased Risk For Potentially Fatal Adrenal Condition. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020902072043.htm
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "Women With Premature Menopause At Increased Risk For Potentially Fatal Adrenal Condition." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020902072043.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins