Low-dose glucocorticoids in hyperandrogenism
To investigate the effect of low-doses of glucocorticoids on androgen and cortisol secretion during the course of the day, we evaluated clinical signs of hyperandrogenism and total, free and bioavailable testosterone, SHBG, and cortisol following two different protocols: A) fourteen patients received betamethasone 0.6 mg/day (n=8) or methylprednisolone 4 mg/day (n=6), as single daily oral dose at 11.00 PM, during 30 days, B) fourteen patients were evaluated under betamethasone 0.3 mg in a single daily dose at 11.00 PM during six months, 11 out of whom were re-evaluated six months later. Twenty eight women with hyperandrogenism were included and seven normal females were used as control. Blood samples were taken in follicular phase at 8 AM and 7 PM to determine SHBG, cortisol, total, free and bioavailable testosterone. In both protocols, a significant morning and evening decrease in cortisol and testosterone (p<0.05 to < 0.01), which was more marked with betamethasone (p<0.05), was shown. In protocol B, morning SHBG levels showed a significant increase (p<0.05) and betamethasone also improved clinical hyperandrogenism along the trial. Although morning and evening cortisol significantly decreased during treatment, no side effects were reported. The 11 patients re-evaluated after therapy withdrawal, showed a rise in serum total testosterone and its fractions to pre-treatment values and a normalization of cortisol levels. It is concluded that glucocorticoids in low-doses effectively normalize serum androgens, independently of their origin. They may be used therapeutically, mainly whenever a hyperandrogenic woman presents with cycle irregularities or seeking fertility.