Metabolic and hormonal changes induced by pioglitazone in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Feb;94(2):469-76. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-1133. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by insulin resistance, compensatory hyperinsulinemia, increased prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance, and increased ovarian androgen biosynthesis.

Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate effects of pioglitazone on whole body insulin action and ovarian androgen biosynthesis in PCOS.

Design: We performed a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

Setting: The study was conducted at the Special Diagnostic and Treatment Unit of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, and the University of California, San Diego, General Clinical Research Center.

Patients or other participants: A total of 23 subjects with PCOS were evaluated at baseline and end of treatment. Six age- and body mass index-matched women without PCOS were normal controls for baseline evaluation.

Intervention: Subjects with PCOS were randomized to oral placebo or pioglitazone 45 mg daily for 6 months.

Main outcome measure(s): The primary outcome measures were whole body insulin action as measured by hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp and ovarian androgen biosynthesis as measured by leuprolide-stimulated production of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP).

Results: Compared with placebo, pioglitazone treatment significantly improved multiple measures of insulin action, including glucose disposal rate (P < 0.01), 2-h glucose during 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (P < 0.01), area under the curve glucose during oral glucose tolerance test (P < 0.01), serum adiponectin (P < 0.01), and fasting hyperinsulinemia (P < 0.01). Compared to placebo, pioglitazone treatment reduced the increment of leuprolide-stimulated 17-OHP (P < 0.02). Improvements in glucose disposal rate correlated with reductions in 17-OHP stimulation (P < 0.02).

Conclusions: Compared to placebo, pioglitazone treatment in PCOS was associated with improvements in insulin action and glucose homeostasis and ameliorated the hyperandrogenic ovarian response.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Pioglitazone
  • Placebos
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology*
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Placebos
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Pioglitazone