Ovulatory and metabolic effects of D-chiro-inositol in the polycystic ovary syndrome

N Engl J Med. 1999 Apr 29;340(17):1314-20. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199904293401703.


Background: Women with the polycystic ovary syndrome have insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, possibly because of a deficiency of a D-chiro-inositol-containing phosphoglycan that mediates the action of insulin. We hypothesized that the administration of D-chiro-inositol would replenish stores of the mediator and improve insulin sensitivity.

Methods: We measured steroids in serum and performed oral glucose-tolerance tests before and after the oral administration of 1200 mg of D-chiro-inositol or placebo once daily for six to eight weeks in 44 obese women with the polycystic ovary syndrome. The serum progesterone concentration was measured weekly to monitor for ovulation.

Results: In the 22 women given D-chiro-inositol, the mean (+/-SD) area under the plasma insulin curve after the oral administration of glucose decreased from 13,417+/-11,572 to 5158+/-6714 microU per milliliter per minute (81+/-69 to 31+/-40 nmol per liter per minute) (P=0.007; P=0.07 for the comparison of this change with the change in the placebo group); glucose tolerance did not change significantly. The serum free testosterone concentration in these 22 women decreased from 1.1+/-0.8 to 0.5+/-0.5 ng per deciliter (38+/-7 to 17+/-3 pmol per liter) (P=0.006 for the comparison with the change in the placebo group). The women's diastolic and systolic blood pressure decreased by 4 mm Hg (P<0.001 and P=0.05, respectively, for the comparisons with the changes in the placebo group), and their plasma triglyceride concentrations decreased from 184+/-88 to 110+/-61 mg per deciliter (2.1+/-0.2 to 1.2+/-0.1 mmol per liter) (P=0.002 for the comparison with the change in the placebo group). None of these variables changed appreciably in the placebo group. Nineteen of the 22 women who received D-chiro-inositol ovulated, as compared with 6 of the 22 women in the placebo group (P<0.001).

Conclusions: D-Chiro-inositol increases the action of insulin in patients with the polycystic ovary syndrome, thereby improving ovulatory function and decreasing serum androgen concentrations, blood pressure, and plasma triglyceride concentrations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / pharmacology
  • Inositol / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Ovulation / drug effects*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology


  • Androgens
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Inositol
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone