Endocrine abnormalities in ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries on ultrasound

Carmina, Enrico; Wong, I. Lane; Chang, Lilly; Paulson, Richard J.; Sauer, Mark V.; Stanczyk, Frank Z.; Lobo, Rogerio A.

Polycystic-appearing ovaries (PAO) on ultrasound have been described in a variety of endocrinopathies and also occur in ovulatory women. By some investigators this is merely referred to as 'PCO' (polycystic ovaries). Although there is controversy in this regard, we do not consider women with PAO/PCO who have no known endocrine disturbance to have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and therefore prefer not to use the term 'PCO' which is often equated with PCOS. We studied 15 ovulatory women with normal-appearing (NAO) ovaries on ultrasound and 15 matched ovulatory women with PAO/PCO. Compared to ovulatory women, 25 other women were studied who were considered to have PCOS. Of these, 15 were overweight and 10 were of normal weight. All the PCOS women had serum concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone, unbound testosterone, androstenedione and dihydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) which were significantly higher (P < 0.01) than values in the normal women, regardless of ovarian morphology. These values were similar in the two groups of ovulatory women with NAO and PAO/PCO. Fasting insulin was elevated in women with PCOS with increased body weight (P < 0.01) and was higher than in ovulatory women with NAO and PAO/PCO and than in women of normal weight with PCOS. Serum insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and binding protein (BP)-3 were similar in all groups but serum IGFBP-1 was significantly (P < 0.01) lower in those women with PCOS with increased body weight, compared to all other groups. Compared to values in ovulatory women with NAO, serum IGFBP-1 was also significantly (P < 0.05) lower in women with PAO/PCO and those women with PCOS of normal weight. These lower values were similar in women with PAO/PCO and in normal weight women with PCOS. On an individual basis, an elevation of at least one serum androgen value was found in 33% of women with PAO/PCO. These data confirm that increased body weight accentuates the metabolic alterations in PCOS, but suggest that subtle endocrine disturbances, similar to those that are found in PCOS, may be uncovered in up to a third of ovulatory women with PAO/PCO. It appears that a disturbance of the IGF/IGFBP-1 axis is common and apparently closely associated with alterations in ovarian morphology.



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Human Reproduction

More About This Work

Academic Units
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Published Here
August 17, 2012