Sex hormone-binding globulin and polycystic ovary syndrome

Clin Chim Acta. 2019 Dec:499:142-148. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2019.09.010. Epub 2019 Sep 13.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common endocrine diseases that causes infertility in reproductive women, is characterized by hyperandrogenemia, chronic anovulation, and polycystic ovary morphology (PCOM), and most women with PCOS have metabolic abnormalities. A reduction in plasma sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a transport carrier that binds estrogen and androgens and regulates their biological activities, is often used as an indicator of hyperandrogenism in women with PCOS. Low serum SHBG levels are considered a biomarker of abnormal metabolism and are related to insulin resistance (IR), compensatory hyperinsulinemia and abnormalities in glucose and lipid metabolism in PCOS patients. SHBG is also associated with the long-term prognosis of PCOS. SHBG gene polymorphism is correlated with the risk of PCOS. As SHBG plays a vital role in the occurrence and development of PCOS, knowledge regarding its role in PCOS is helpful for further understanding the molecular mechanism of SHBG in PCOS development and providing new ideas for the treatment of female infertility. Hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF-4α) is a vital transcription factor in the SHBG synthesis process. HNF-4α binds to the cis-type element DR1 in the SHBG promoter to initiate transcription and regulates hepatic SHBG levels by modulating glucose and lipid metabolism and inflammatory factors. However, it remains unclear whether HNF-4α is indirectly involved in the pathogenesis of PCOS via regulation of hepatic SHBG synthesis. Therefore, this review discusses the interaction between SHBG and the various complications of PCOS as well as the regulatory effect of HNF-4α on SHBG expression.

Keywords: Androgen; Hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF-4α); Insulin resistance (IR); Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / genetics
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*


  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin