Hepatocellular dysfunction and perturbed portal hemodynamics alter steroid metabolism. Men with liver disease have gynecomastia, although women similarly affected rarely show virilization. We report a 10-yr-old girl with portal hypertension and shunting associated with precocious puberty and ovarian hyperandrogenism. This was one of premature twin girls; neither had clitoromegaly or genital ambiguity. In one child, neonatal respiratory problems led to umbilical vein catheterization with subsequent development of portal hypertension. Pubic hair was first noted at age 6 yr, breasts at 7 yr, and severe ache and clitoromegaly at 10 yr. Baseline sex hormones were elevated: androstenedione (A), 413 ng/dL; testosterone (T), 226 ng/dL; and estradiol (E2), 160 pg/mL. Liver transaminases were within the normal range, however, the coagulation profile was mildly abnormal. Cosyntropin adrenal stimulation revealed no steroidogenic defect. Dexamethasone suppression reduced A and T slightly. LH-releasing hormone stimulation produced a pubertal rise in LH and FSH. Pelvic sonography showed a large right ovary with numerous follicles. Surgical exploration revealed symmetrically enlarged ovaries with dense capsules. Histology of ovarian wedge resections showed hyperthecosis; immunohistochemistry showed stromal cells expressing steroidogenic enzymes and proteins. One month postoperatively, A and T were unchanged from baseline, whereas E2 decreased to 56 pg/mL. A single dose of depot leuprolide acetate significantly reduced T. Subsequent treatment with oral contraceptives reduced T to 50 ng/dL, and cyclical menses occurred. We conclude that precocious puberty and ovarian hyperthecosis were induced in this young girl by elevated circulating levels of sex hormones, a consequence of portasystemic shunting and impaired hepatic steroid metabolism.
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