The contributions of oestrogen and growth factors to increased adrenal androgen secretion in polycystic ovary syndrome

E. Carmina, F. Gonzalez, A. Vidali, F. Z. Stanczyk, M. Ferin, R. A. Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adrenal hyperandrogenism is prevalent in many women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), although the expression of this enhanced secretion may be heterogeneous. Since no single factor acts in isolation, this study was performed to assess the influence of oestradiol (total and unbound), insulin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and the binding proteins IGFBP-I, and IGFBP-3, on basal and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) stimulated adrenal androgen secretion in 25 women with PCOS and 10 matched ovulatory controls. Women with PCOS exhibited elevations of all androgens as well as unbound oestradiol, insulin and non-IGFBP-1 bound IGF-I. Positive correlations were noted between oestrogen and basal and ACTH stimulated Δ5 adrenal androgens. Serum IGF-I was only correlated with basal dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S), while insulin exhibited a strong correlation with the Δ4 pathway and androstenedione formation in particular. This correlation was also confirmed by dividing the PCOS group into those women with and without hyperinsulinaemia. The activity of 17,20 lyase favouring androstenedione was increased in the hyperinsulinaemic women. By multivariate analyses, body mass index did not influence these findings. Although there are inherent difficulties in making major conclusions based on correlative analyses, it is suggested that oestrogen may have a greater influence on enhancing Δ5 adrenal androgen secretion, and insulin a greater effect on the Δ4 pathway. In turn, the relative importance of these influences may contribute to the heterogeneous nature of adrenal hyperandrogenism in PCOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-311
Number of pages5
JournalHuman Reproduction
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

Keywords

  • Adrenal androgens
  • IGF-I
  • Insulin
  • Oestrogen
  • PCOS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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