Global adiposity and thickness of intraperitoneal and mesenteric adipose tissue depots are increased in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Mar;98(3):1254-63. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3698. Epub 2013 Feb 5.


Context: Sexual dimorphism suggests a role for androgens in body fat distribution. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a mainly androgen excess disorder, often present with abdominal obesity and visceral adiposity.

Objective: We hypothesized that women with PCOS have a masculinized body fat distribution favoring the deposition of fat in visceral and organ-specific adipose tissue depots.

Design: This was a case-control study.

Setting: The study was conducted at an academic hospital.

Participants: Women with PCOS (n = 55), women without androgen excess (n = 25), and men (n = 26) presenting with similar body mass index participated in the study.

Interventions: There were no interventions.

Main outcome measures: Ultrasound measurements of adipose tissue depots including sc (minimum and maximum), preperitoneal, ip, mesenteric, epicardial, and perirenal fat thickness were obtained and total body fat mass was estimated using a body fat monitor.

Results: Men and patients with PCOS had increased amounts of total body fat compared with control women. Men had increased thickness of intraabdominal adipose tissue depots compared with the control women, with the women with PCOS showing intermediate values that were also higher than those of control women in the case of ip and mesenteric fat thickness and was close to reaching statistical significance in the case of epicardial fat thickness. Women with PCOS also showed increased minimum sc fat thickness compared with the control women. Obesity increased the thickness of all of the adipose tissue depots in the 3 groups of subjects.

Conclusions: Women with PCOS have higher global adiposity and increased amounts of visceral adipose tissue compared with control women, especially in the ip and mesenteric depots.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / blood
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Peritoneum / diagnostic imaging
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Virilism / diagnostic imaging
  • Virilism / metabolism
  • Virilism / physiopathology
  • Young Adult


  • Androgens
  • Lipids