Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome

Authors

  • T. M. Barber,

    1. Diabetes Research Laboratories, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Oxford University, Oxford, UK and
    2. Department of Endocrinology, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Oxford University, Oxford, UK,
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  • M. I. McCarthy,

    1. Diabetes Research Laboratories, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Oxford University, Oxford, UK and
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  • J. A. H. Wass,

    1. Department of Endocrinology, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Oxford University, Oxford, UK,
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  • S. Franks

    1. Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College, London, UK
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Dr T. Barber, Diabetes Research Laboratories, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Old Road, Headington, Oxford, Ox3 7LJ, Tel.: +44(0)1865 857292; Fax: +44(0)1865 857299; E-mail: tom.barber@drl.ox.ac.uk

Summary

The aetiology of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is complex and multifactorial. There is much evidence, however, to suggest that adipose tissue plays an important role in the development and maintenance of PCOS pathology. There is a close correlation between adiposity and symptom severity in women with PCOS, and even modest reductions in weight generally translate into significant improvements in menstrual regularity, fertility and hyperandrogenic features. This review article considers the various mechanisms that might underlie this link between excess adiposity and PCOS – including the effects of differential insulin sensitivity, abnormal steroid hormone metabolism and adipocytokine secretion. Greater attention to the therapeutic options available to reduce the impact of excess adiposity on ovarian and metabolic function is essential to the management of PCOS.

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