The association between circulating irisin levels and different phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome

J Endocrinol Invest. 2018 Dec;41(12):1401-1407. doi: 10.1007/s40618-018-0902-4. Epub 2018 May 21.


Purpose: The diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is based on a combination of various clinical phenotypes in each patient. However, insulin resistance (IR) and dysmetabolism are not included in the diagnostic criteria of PCOS. Therefore, the definition of PCOS is controversial. The objective of this study is to investigate whether some PCOS phenotypes can be predicted by a circulating biomarker related to IR and metabolic dysfunction in PCOS women.

Methods: One hundred and seventeen women with PCOS and 95 healthy women were recruited for this study. All individuals were assessed by the phenotypic and metabolic characteristics related to PCOS. A euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp was performed to assess insulin sensitivity. Circulating irisin concentrations were determined with ELISA.

Results: In our PCOS cohort, 65.8% of individuals were found to have hyperandrogenism. 83.8% had chronic oligoanovulation, and 80.3% of subjects showed polycystic ovaries. According to the diagnostic criteria of PCOS, 30.8% of PCOS subjects were diagnosed with the classic phenotype. In addition, 65.8% of PCOS women had insulin resistance. Serum irisin levels were significantly higher in PCOS women compared with healthy women. However, PCOS women with a normoandrogenic phenotype had similar circulating irisin levels as healthy women. PCOS women with the normoandrogenic phenotype had a low homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and higher M-values than PCOS women with other phenotypes. Circulating irisin levels were associated with hyperandrogenism, but not with oligoanovulation or PCO morphology.

Conclusions: Circulating irisin may allow physicians to establish which women merit screening by a biomarker for PCOS.

Keywords: Euglycemic–hyperinsulinemic clamp; Insulin resistance; Irisin; PCOS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anovulation / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / blood*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / blood*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • FNDC5 protein, human
  • Fibronectins
  • Insulin