Pathological pulses in PCOS

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2019 Dec 1;498:110561. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2019.110561. Epub 2019 Aug 25.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a highly prevalent endocrine disorder associated with hyperandrogenism and anovulation. Although a spectrum disorder, many women with PCOS exhibit elevated luteinizing hormone (LH) pulse frequency and an elevated LH to follicle stimulating hormone ratio. This aberrant pattern of gonadotrophin signalling drives many of the downstream ovarian features of PCOS, including increased androgen synthesis, and indicates neuroendocrine impairments upstream. Decreased responsiveness to gonadal steroid hormone negative feedback in PCOS patients points toward dysfunction within the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuronal network in the brain. Excessive androgen exposure during development or over pubertal onset can recapitulate the neuroendocrine pathology of PCOS in pre-clinical models, and these models have been fundamental in beginning to pick apart the specific central mechanisms involved. This mini-review will briefly describe the pathology of PCOS associated with high frequency GnRH/LH pulses and then highlight what is currently known, and yet to be discovered, about the central mechanisms involved.

Keywords: Androgen; GnRH; Kisspeptin; Luteinizing hormone; Polycystic ovary syndrome; Pulse generator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Luteinizing Hormone