Inositol as putative integrative treatment for PCOS

Reprod Biomed Online. 2016 Dec;33(6):770-780. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2016.08.024. Epub 2016 Sep 16.


Studies over the last decade have demonstrated that some polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients have abnormal insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance), independently from being overweight or obese. This induces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in such PCOS patients. The use of insulin sensitizers (i.e. metformin), reduces such metabolic, and most hormonal, impairments. As metformin often induces side effects, new integrative strategies have been proposed to treat insulin resistance, such as the use of inositols. Such compounds are mainly represented in humans by two inositol stereoisomers: myo-inositol (MYO) and d-chiro-inositol (DCI). MYO is the precursor of inositol triphosphate, a second messenger that regulates thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and FSH as well as insulin. DCI derives from the conversion of myo-inositol via an insulin-dependent pathway. Several preliminary studies have indicated possible benefits of inositol therapy in PCOS patients, but to date no meta-analysis has been performed. This review aims to give clinical insights for the clinical use of inositol in PCOS.

Keywords: anovulation; d-chiro-inositol; diabetes; hyperandrogenism; insulin resistance; myo-inositol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / metabolism
  • Hyperinsulinism / metabolism
  • Inositol / metabolism
  • Inositol / therapeutic use*
  • Inositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism


  • Inositol Phosphates
  • Insulin
  • Inositol
  • Thyrotropin