Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Recent studies have shown that serum retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) levels increase with obesity. Currently, no data exist on the relative expression of RBP4 in either serum or adipose tissue of PCOS women.
Objectives: mRNA expression of RBP4 from sc and omental (om) adipose tissue and sc adipocytes in overweight PCOS women were compared with matched controls; RBP4 protein in adipose tissue and serum RBP4 levels were also assessed. Additionally, we studied the effects of testosterone, 17beta-estradiol, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate on RBP4 expression in adipose tissue explants.
Design: Real-time RT-PCR and Western blotting were used to assess the relative mRNA and protein expression of RBP4. Biochemical measurements were also performed.
Results: Compared with controls, there was significant up-regulation of RBP4 mRNA in sc (P < 0.05) and om (P < 0.01) adipose tissue as well as isolated sc adipocytes (P < 0.01) of PCOS women. In addition to elevated serum RBP4 levels in PCOS women (P < 0.05), RBP4 protein levels were significantly greater in sc and om adipose tissue of PCOS women (P < 0.05 and P < 0.05, respectively). Furthermore, in human sc and om adipose tissue explants, 17beta-estradiol significantly increased RBP4 mRNA expression, protein levels, and secretion into the culture media (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The precise reason for elevated levels of RBP4 in overweight PCOS women is unknown, but it appears that 17beta-estradiol may play a role in their regulation in adipose tissue.