Fat behaves differently in patients with polycistic ovary syndrome

February 2, 2010

Fat tissue in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome produces an inadequate amount of the hormone that regulates how fats and glucose are processed, promoting increased insulin resistance and inflammation, glucose intolerance, and greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to a study conducted at the Center for Androgen-Related Research and Discovery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder of of childbearing age, affecting approximately 10 percent of women. It is the most common cause of infertility, and an important risk factor for early diabetes in women.

"We're beginning to find that fat tissue behaves very differently in patients with PCOS than in other women," said Ricardo Azziz, M.D.,M.P.H., director of the Center for Androgen-Related Research and Discovery, and principal investigator on the study. "Identifying the unusual behavior of this fat-produced hormone is an important step to better understanding the causes underlying the disorder, and may be helpful in developing treatments that will protect patients against developing heart disease and ."

Fat tissue is the body's largest hormone-producing organ, secreting a large number of hormones that affect appetite, bowel function, , and fat and sugar metabolism. One of these hormones is adiponectin, which in sufficient quantities encourages the proper action of insulin on fats and sugars and reduces inflammation. Women with PCOS produce a smaller amount of adiponectin than women who do not have the disease, in response to other fat-produced hormones, according to the research to be published in the February issue of .

While Polycystic is often associated with obesity, women with the disorder are not necessarily more likely to be overweight. In fact, in the study, adiponectin was lacking in PCOS patients whose weight was considered to be in a healthy range, as well as in those patients who were overweight.

PCOS also can cause symptoms such as irregular ovulation and menstruation, infertility, excess male hormones, excess male-like hair growth (hirsutism), and polycystic ovaries. About two-thirds of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, an impairment in the effectiveness of the hormone insulin, which regulates the body's utilization of fats and sugars, and which results in a higher risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The causes of insulin resistance in PCOS patients remain unknown.

Explore further: Rare pigs studied at Purdue University

More information: Published online ahead of print and available at http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/rapidpdf/jc.2009-1158v1.

Related Stories

Rare pigs studied at Purdue University

April 3, 2006

Purdue University scientists at West Lafayette, Ind., are using Ossabaw pigs in a study concerning human infertility, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Diabetes drug slows early-onset puberty in girls

June 16, 2008

In young girls at risk of early puberty and insulin resistance, the diabetes drug metformin delayed the onset of menstruation and decreased the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, according ...

Acupuncture may hold promise for women with hormone disorder

September 3, 2008

Getting pregnant with her first child was difficult, but when Rebecca Killmeyer of Charlottesville, Va. experienced a miscarriage during her second pregnancy, she wasn't sure if she would ever have another baby. When she ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.