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Homozygous nonsense and frameshift mutations of the ACTH receptor in children with familial glucocorticoid deficiency (FGD) are not associated with long-term mineralocorticoid deficiency


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A. J. L. Clark, Centre for Endocrinology, John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK. Tel.: +44 2078828284; Fax: +44 2078826197; E-mail: a.j.clark@qmul.ac.uk


Objective  Familial glucocorticoid deficiency (FGD) is a rare autosomal recessive disease characterized by isolated glucocorticoid deficiency with preserved mineralocorticoid secretion. Mutations in the ACTH receptor (MC2R) account for approximately 25% of all FGD cases, but since these are usually missense mutations, a degree of receptor function is frequently retained. A recent report, however, suggested that disturbances in the renin–aldosterone axis were seen in some patients with potentially more severe MC2R mutations. Furthermore, MC2R knock out mice have overt aldosterone deficiency and hyperkalaemia despite preservation of a normal zona glomerulosa. We wished to determine whether a group of patients with severe nonsense mutations of the MC2R exhibited evidence of mineralocorticoid deficiency, thereby challenging the conventional diagnostic feature of FGD which might result in diagnostic misclassification.

Design  Clinical review of patients with nonsense MC2R mutations.

Patients  Between 1993 and 2008, 164 patients with FGD were screened for mutations in the MC2R. Totally 42 patients (34 families) were found to have mutations in the MC2R. Of these, 6 patients (4 families) were found to have homozygous nonsense or frameshift mutations.

Results  Mild disturbances in the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone axis were noted in four out of six patients, ranging from slightly elevated plasma renin levels to low aldosterone levels, although frank mineralocorticoid deficiency or electrolyte disturbance were not found. No patient required fludrocortisone replacement.

Conclusion  Severe nonsense and frameshift MC2R mutations are not associated with clinically significant mineralocorticoid deficiency and are thus unlikely to require long-term mineralocorticoid replacement.