21-Hydroxylase Antibodies

Reference range:

The adrenal 21-hydroxylase antibody test also referred to as the adrenal antibodies test, is used to investigate the insufficiency of the adrenal gland and to assess the risk that a person may develop an autoimmune adrenal gland insufficiency.

This result is a qualitative determination of autoantibodies to 21-Hydroxylase (21-OH Abs) in patient serum. 21-OH Abs occur in autoimmune Addison's disease, whether isolated or part of type I or type II autoimmune polyglandular syndrome. This result should be used in conjunction with other clinical and laboratory findings and is not a substitute for functional testing required to diagnose adrenal insufficiency.


Cortisol, aldosterone, and other steroid hormones are secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol and aldosterone are vital hormones, and an adrenal gland malfunction, known as Addison's disease, should be quickly detected and treated. 

Our immune system is responsible for our body's defense against cell and foreign organism threats. Often, some of its tissues are deregulated and mistaken for foreign matter. Antibodies produced against the body's tissues are the cause of a large number of autoimmune diseases, including juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and several thyroid disorders. Auto-antibodies are also the most common cause of Addison's disease, either alone or often in combination with other autoimmune conditions (hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, etc.).

The presence of 21-hydroxylase antibodies is consistent with developing or established Addison's disease. 

Potential symptoms:

Over time, adrenal insufficiency or Addison's disease may lead to these symptoms:

- Inability to digest food, loss of appetite, and weight loss

- Chronic fatigue and muscle weakness

- Blotchy, dark tanning and freckling of the skin; this is most noticeable on parts of the body exposed to the sun, but also occurs in unexposed areas like the gums. Darkened skin is particularly likely to occur on the forehead, knees, and elbows or along scars, skin folds, and creases (such as on the palms).

- Low blood pressure (hypotension) that falls further when standing; this causes dizziness, sometimes to the point of fainting.

- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

- Blood sugar abnormalities, including dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

- Moodiness, irritability, and depression

- Inability to cope with stress

- Craving for salty foods

- Intolerance to heat or cold

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