Prepubertal hypertrichosis is a reportedly benign condition characterized by an excessive growth of vellous hair in non-androgen dependent areas of the body compared to the amount usually present in normal subjects of the same age, race and sex. Although this condition is usually considered idiopathic and regarded as benign, it may be very disturbing cosmetically, causing significant patient and parental anxiety.
We performed a hormonal and androgen receptor study in 42 prepubertal girls with hypertrichosis and 29 control girls from 2 to 8 years of age. Both groups underwent a determination of basal LH, FSH, 17OH progesterone, androstenedione, testosterone, estradiol and SHBG, abdominal ultrasound to assess ovarian morphology, and the number of androgen receptor CAG/GGC repeats in DNA obtained from peripheral leukocytes.
The hypertrichosis score was higher in the cases compared to controls. Serum gonadotropins and sex steroids were similar in both groups, but SHBG was significantly lower in the girls with hypertrichosis (71.1 ± 2.9 vs 81.9 ± 3.0 nmol/L, p < 0.02). The distribution of shorter, larger and total alleles was not statistically different between cases and controls. The combined analysis of CAG/GGC, however, showed a significantly higher prevalence of the most androgen-sensitive haplotypes (1–2: <22CAG + 17/17GGC- < 14CAG + 17/18GGC) in girls with hypertrichosis compared to controls.
We conclude that girls with hypertrychosis exhibit AR(s) with enhanced sensitivity, which may facilitate the growth of their body hair.