The expression of sex steroid synthesis and inactivation enzymes in subcutaneous adipose tissue of PCOS patients

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Oct;132(1-2):120-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Feb 21.


Modulation of sex steroid pre-receptor in adipose tissue is important for the development of metabolic diseases, but its roles in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has not been fully characterized. Herein we compared the expression of key sex steroid converting enzymes in the subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) between patients with PCOS and the matched controls. Most of the sex steroid converting enzymes were highly expressed in the SAT, except 17α-hydroxylase (CYP17A1). Compared with the controls, PCOS patients showed significantly higher levels of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase1-2 (3β-HSD1-2), aldo-keto reductase 1C 1-3 (AKR1C1-3) and leptin, but lower level of P450 aromatase and 5α-reductase 1. Interestingly, leptin was positively correlated to AKR1C2 expression and negatively to 5α-reductase1 as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ). In summary, the expression of enzymes synthesizing testosterone and enzymes inactivating DHT and progesterone was higher in SAT of PCOS patients compared to controls. Correlation analysis indicated that increased leptin expression may be negatively related to local DHT level. These data suggested that sex steroid converting enzymes expression was different in SAT of PCOS patients that might contribute to abnormal testosterone and leptin level of PCOS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / genetics
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / genetics
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Testosterone / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • Adiponectin
  • Leptin
  • PPAR gamma
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Oxidoreductases