Adrenal Diseases

Adrenal diseases comprise a collection of disorders with important implications to health. As discussed herein elsewhere, adrenal failure (Addison’s disease) is a life threatening disease which can be readily managed with appropriate diagnosis and medications. Dr Maclaren is internationally recognized for his contributions to this disease. Cushing’s syndrome is the opposite problem whereby excessive secretion of adrenal hormones results usually from over-stimulation of pituitary adrenotrophic hormone (ACTH). Occasionally, a tumor or neoplasm is responsible for an excess of adrenal hormones, often sex hormones like androgens or” male” hormones.   There are also a variety of inherited or congenital adrenal enzyme defects that result combinations of deficient adrenal hormones plus excessive hormones that form behind the steroid hormone pathway blockage which are androgens. This can result in ambiguous genitalia in newborn baby girls with about half affected deficient in glucocorticoids and salt retaining hormones (classical adrenal hyperplasia or CAH. In boys, CAH may present with adrenal crisis in otherwise normally appearing baby boys or as premature sexual precocity in later childhood. A more common disease (non-classical adrenal hyperplasia or NC-CAH) results from a congenital partial deficiency in an adrenal enzyme whereby excessive androgens lead to virulization problems in both sexes as discussed under the appropriate section.