Peripheral insulin resistance in obese girls with hyperandrogenism is related to oxidative phosphorylation and elevated serum free fatty acids

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015 May 1;308(9):E726-33. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00619.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Hyperandrogenic syndrome (HAS) is associated with insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes. Muscle IR in type 2 diabetes is linked with defects in mitochondrial oxidative capacity. In vivo muscle mitochondrial function has not been studied in HAS, especially in youth, who are early in the disease process. Our goal was to measure muscle mitochondrial oxidative function and peripheral IR in obese youth with HAS. Obese girls without HAS [n = 22, age 15(13,17) yr, BMI Z-score 2.05 ± 0.37] and with HAS [n = 35, age 15(14,16) yr, BMI Z-score 2.18 ± 0.30] were enrolled. Mitochondrial function was assessed with (31)phosphorus MR spectroscopy before, during, and after near-maximal isometric calf exercise, and peripheral IR was assessed with an 80 mU·m(-2)·min(-1) hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. Girls with HAS had higher androgens [free androgen index 7.9(6.6,15.5) vs. 3.5(3.0,4.0), P < 0.01] and more IR [glucose infusion rate 9.4(7.0, 12,2) vs. 14.5(13.2,15.8) mg·kg lean(-1)·min(-1), P < 0.01]. HAS girls also had increased markers of inflammation including CRP, platelets, and white blood cell count and higher serum free fatty acids during hyperinsulinemia. Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was lower in HAS [0.11(0.06,0.19) vs. 0.18(0.12,0.23) mmol/s, P < 0.05], although other spectroscopy markers of mitochondrial function were similar between groups. In multivariate analysis of the entire cohort, IR related to androgens, oxidative phosphorylation, and free fatty acid concentrations during hyperinsulinemia. These relationships were present in just the HAS cohort as well. Obese girls with HAS have significant peripheral IR, which is related to elevated androgens and free fatty acids and decreased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. These may provide future options as targets for therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: hyperandrogenic syndrome; hyperandrogenism; insulin resistance; mitochondria; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood*
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications
  • Hyperandrogenism / metabolism*
  • Hyperinsulinism / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation*
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified