GLP-1 receptor agonists in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Apr;10(4):401-408. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2017.1292125. Epub 2017 Feb 13.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects many women of child-bearing age and is characterized by hyperandrogenism, ovulatory and metabolic dysfunction. A primary treatment goal is weight reduction. The weight loss effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA), previously demonstrated in diabetic and obese non-diabetic patients, offer a unique opportunity to expand the medical options available to PCOS patients. Areas covered: Available clinical trials of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist therapy in PCOS were reviewed. Literature was searched from PubMed using appropriate search terms up to November 2016. Expert commentary: The available studies of GLP-1 RA therapy in the treatment of excess body weight in women with PCOS demonstrate that exenatide and liraglutide are effective in weight reduction either as monotherapy or in combination with metformin. A few studies showed that androgens may be modestly decreased and menstrual frequency may be increased. Eating behavior may be improved with liraglutide therapy. Glucose parameters are generally improved. GLP-1RAs were well-tolerated, with nausea being the most significant adverse side effect. Barriers to utilization may be the short duration studies, lack of familiarity of the medication, the route of administration (injection) and the variable outcomes on ovulation and hyperandrogenism.

Keywords: Exenatide; glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists; liraglutide; obesity; polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Drug Design
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology


  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Glucose