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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-21 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

This test is used for evaluating virilizing syndromes such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, adrenal hyperplasia, and cushing disease to name a few.[1]


  • Androstenediones (ADs, DHEA, and its sulfuric ester, DHEA S) are precursors of testosterone and estrone and are produced in the gonads and the adrenal glands.
  • ACTH secretion is stimulated by the lack of cortisol, which in turn stimulates the adrenal secretion of androstenediones.
  • As ACTH increases the level of ADs, these hormones are converted into a high level of testosterone by the peripheral tissues.
  • ADs are found to be elevated in cases of hirusitism and virilization.

Patient Preparation

  • Fasting is preferable.
  • Factors which can cause increased levels
  • Drugs: corticotropin, clomiphene, and metyrapone
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels
  • Drugs: Steroids

Clinical Implications

High levels indicate:

  • Adrenal tumor
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Ectopic ACTH-producing tumors
  • Cushing disease
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Stein-Leventhal syndrome
  • Ovarian sex cord tumor

Low levels indicate:

  • Primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency
  • Ovarian failure
  • Oophorectomy

Associated Tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.