Background: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are often treated with insulin-sensitizing agents, e.g. thiazolidinediones (TZD), which have been shown to reduce androgen levels and improved ovulatory function. Acting via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, TZD alter the expression of a large variety of genes. Lethal yellow (LY; C57BL/6J Ay/a) mice, possessing a mutation (Ay) in the agouti gene locus, exhibit progressive obesity, reproductive dysfunction, and altered metabolic regulation similar to women with PCOS. The current study was designed to test the hypothesis that prolonged treatment of aging LY mice with the TZD, pioglitazone, alters the ovarian expression of genes that may impact reproduction.
Methods: Female LY mice received daily oral doses of either 0.01 mg pioglitazone (n = 4) or an equal volume of vehicle (DMSO; n = 4) for 8 weeks. At the end of treatment, ovaries were removed and DNA microarrays were used to analyze differential gene expression.
Results: Twenty-seven genes showed at least a two-fold difference in ovarian expression with pioglitazone treatment. These included leptin, angiopoietin, angiopoietin-like 4, Foxa3, PGE1 receptor, resistin-like molecule-alpha (RELM), and actin-related protein 6 homolog (ARP6). For most altered genes, pioglitazone changed levels of expression to those seen in untreated C57BL/6J(a/a) non-mutant lean mice.
Conclusion: TZD administration may influence ovarian function via numerous diverse mechanisms that may or may not be directly related to insulin/IGF signaling.