Obesity, acanthosis nigricans, insulin resistance, and hyperandrogenemia: Pediatric perspective and natural history

Gail E. Richards, Anita Cavallo, Walter J. Meyer, Melvin J. Prince, Edward J. Peters, Charles A. Stuart, Edward R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


We studied the syndrome of acanthosis nigricans, obesity, insulin resistance, and hyperandrogenemia in 22 patients. Although isolated case reports in adolescents have appeared, this syndrome has not received full recognition as a pediatric entity. Our patients (17 girls, five boys) had a mean weight 5.7 SD above the mean for age, although mean height was only 0.5 SD above the mean for age. All patients had acanthosis nigricans. Their insulin resistance was significantly greater than that in a control group with comparable obesity. Fasting insulin concentration was 5.25 μU/ml in lean controls, 19.6 μU/ml in obese controls, and 49.8 μU/ml in study patients (P<0.002). Mean glucose disappearance rate during an insulin tolerance test was 6.7%/min in lean controls, 5.19%/min in obese controls, and 2.35%/min in study patients (P<0.02). After menarche, mean plasma testosterone concentration was 106 ng/dl, compared with <50 ng/dl in all lean and obese control patients. Data derived from our series of patients lead us to conclude that (1) this is a genetic syndrome, although the exact mode of inheritance is unclear; (2) the natural history of the syndrome invariably begins with the onset of obesity, followed by acanthosis nigricans that worsens with progressive weight gain; (3) acanthosis nigricans is thus a marker for hyperinsulinemia, which occurs before hyperandrogenemia; (4) hyperandrogenemia occurs only after menarche. Identification of this syndrome should permit monitoring for the development of hyperandrogenemia during puberty and determination of other affected family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-897
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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