Chromium supplementation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Systematic review and meta-analysis

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2018 Jan;44(1):134-143. doi: 10.1111/jog.13462. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Aim: Increasing evidence has suggested that chromium supplementation may improve the clinical symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), yet the results have been inconsistent. To derive a more precise estimation of the efficacy of chromium, a meta-analysis was performed.

Methods: Studies published in PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library up to April 2017 were retrieved. Standardized mean differences (SMD) with 95%CI were calculated for net changes using random-effects or fixed-effects models.

Results: A total of six randomized clinical trials (RCT) with 351 PCOS women were ultimately collected in this meta-analysis. All included RCT were of moderate-high quality. On pooled analysis, insulin resistance was significantly decreased (SMD, -0.84; 95%CI: -1.30 to -0.38; P = 0.0004), while the total testosterone (SMD, 0.36; 95%CI: 0.07-0.65; P = 0.02) and free testosterone (SMD, 0.80; 95%CI: 0.48-1.12; P < 0.00001) were markedly increased in chromium-treated PCOS patients compared with control groups. No significant difference was found in other indexes of insulin metabolism (body mass index, fasting insulin, fasting blood sugar and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index), hormone status (luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and prolactin) and lipid profiles (cholesterol and triglycerides) between the two groups.

Conclusion: Supplementation with chromium may not have significant benefits for women with PCOS. More RCT with low heterogeneity, however, are required to corroborate the present findings.

Keywords: chromium; hormone status; insulin metabolism; meta-analysis; polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromium / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology*


  • Trace Elements
  • Chromium