Decreased myo-inositol to chiro-inositol (M/C) ratios and increased M/C epimerase activity in PCOS theca cells demonstrate increased insulin sensitivity compared to controls

Endocr J. 2014;61(2):111-7. doi: 10.1507/endocrj.ej13-0423. Epub 2013 Nov 2.


Previous studies from our and other labs have shown that insulin resistance is associated with an inositol imbalance of excess myo-inositol and deficient chiro-inositol together with a deficiency of myo-inositol to chiro-inositol epimerase in vivo and in vitro. In this report, we utilized well characterized theca cells from normal cycling women, with normal insulin sensitivity, and theca cells from women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), with increased insulin sensitivity to examine the myo-inositol to chiro-inisitol (M/C) ratio and the myo-inositol to chiro-inositol epimerase activity. PCOS theca cells with increased insulin sensitivity were specifically used to investigate whether the inositol imbalance and myo-inositol to chiro-inositol epimerase are regulated in a similar or the opposite direction than that observed in insulin resistant cells. The results of these studies are the first to demonstrate that in insulin sensitive PCOS theca cells the inositol imbalance goes in the opposite direction to that observed in insulin resistant cells, and there is a decreased M/C ratio and an increased myo-inositol to chiro-inositol epimerase activity. Further biochemical and genetic studies will probe the mechanisms involved.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbohydrate Epimerases / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / enzymology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Theca Cells / enzymology


  • Inositol
  • Carbohydrate Epimerases
  • myo-inositol to chiro-inositol epimerase, human