In women, ovary and adrenal gland produce androgens. Androgens are essential drivers of the primordial to antral follicle development, prior to serving as substrate for estrogen production in the later stages of folliculogenesis. Androgens play a crucial role in the follicular-stromal intertalk by fine tuning the extracellular matrix and vessel content of the ovarian stroma. Local auto-and paracrine factors regulate androgen synthesis in the pre-antral follicle. Androgen excess is a hallmark of polycystic ovary syndrome and is a key contributor in the exaggerated antral follicle formation, stromal hyperplasia and hypervascularity. Hyperandrogenaemia overrides the follicular-stromal dialog, resulting in follicular arrest and disturbed ovulation. On the other hand, androgen deficiency is likely to have a negative impact on fertility as well, and further research is needed to examine the benefits of androgen-replacement therapy in subfertility.
Keywords: androgen; angiogenesis; folliculogenesis; polycystic ovary syndrome; stroma.