Indices of low-grade inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Dec;1092:175-86. doi: 10.1196/annals.1365.015.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is probably the most common endocrinopathy of reproductive age. PCOS represents a disorder that not only enhances the risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) but is also associated with an increased number of cardiovascular risk factors known to facilitate atherogenesis. On the other hand, inflammation is thought to play an important role in the progression and development of complications of atherosclerosis. Evidence of low-grade chronic inflammation in PCOS is indicated by the presence of elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, inflammatory cytokines (i.e., IL-6 and IL-18), and increased leucocyte count. CRP, a nonspecific marker of inflammation, has been proven to be one of the strongest predictors of the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with or without cardiovascular disease. The levels of the adhesion molecules (AM), sIVAM-1, sVCAM-1, and sE-selectin in serum reflect low-grade chronic inflammation of the endothelium and independently predict coronary heart disease (CHD) and T2D. In a recent study in a large number of PCOS women we demonstrated elevated levels of sIVAM-1 and sE-selectin and we further substantiated the existence of a low-grade chronic inflammatory process in PCOS. However, it remains to be assessed with long-term studies whether the early presence of markers of chronic inflammation in young women with this syndrome has clinical significance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / blood
  • Cytokines / blood
  • E-Selectin / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cytokines
  • E-Selectin
  • C-Reactive Protein