Modulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone pulse generator sensitivity to progesterone inhibition in hyperandrogenic adolescent girls--implications for regulation of pubertal maturation

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Jul;94(7):2360-6. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-2606. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Context: Adult women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have decreased GnRH pulse generator sensitivity to progesterone (P)-mediated slowing. This defect is androgen mediated because it is reversed with androgen receptor blockade. Adolescent hyperandrogenism often precedes PCOS.

Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate GnRH pulse generator sensitivity to P-mediated slowing in normal and hyperandrogenic girls.

Design: We conducted a controlled interventional study.

Setting: The study was conducted in a general clinical research center.

Participants: A total of 26 normal control (NC) and 26 hyperandrogenic (HA) girls were studied.

Intervention: Frequent blood sampling was performed for 11 h to assess LH pulse frequency before and after 7 d of oral estradiol and P.

Main outcome measure: We measured the slope of the percentage reduction in LH pulse frequency as a function of d 7 P (slope).

Results: Overall, Tanner 3-5 HA subjects were less sensitive to P-mediated slowing than Tanner 3-5 NC (slope, 4.7 +/- 3.4 vs. 10.3 +/- 7.7; P = 0.006). However, there was variability in the responses of HA subjects; 15 had P sensitivities within the range seen in NC, whereas nine were relatively P insensitive. The two groups had similar testosterone levels. Fasting insulin levels were higher in P-insensitive HA girls (39.6 +/- 30.6 vs. 22.2 +/- 13.9 microIU/ml; P = 0.02), and there was an inverse relationship between fasting insulin and P sensitivity in HA girls (P = 0.02). Tanner 1-2 NC had lower testosterone levels and were more P sensitive than Tanner 3-5 NC (slope, 19.3 +/- 5.8; P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Hyperandrogenism is variably associated with reduced GnRH pulse generator sensitivity to P-mediated slowing during adolescence. In addition to androgen levels, insulin resistance may modulate P sensitivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Resistance / physiology
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / blood
  • Hyperandrogenism / drug therapy*
  • Hyperandrogenism / metabolism
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use*
  • Puberty / blood
  • Puberty / drug effects*
  • Pulsatile Flow / drug effects*
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drug Combinations
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone