Hyperandrogenemia and insulin resistance: The chief culprit of polycystic ovary syndrome

Life Sci. 2019 Nov 1:236:116940. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2019.116940. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common systemic reproductive endocrine diseases, which has a variety of effects on a woman's health. Because of the involvement of multiple pathways and the lack of common clues, PCOS demonstrates multifactorial properties and heterogeneity of symptoms. Recent studies have demonstrated that the core etiology and primary endocrine characteristics of PCOS are hyperandrogenemia (HA) and insulin resistance (IR). HA and IR are the main causes of PCOS and they can interplay each other in the occurrence and development of PCOS. Just because of this, the study about the effects of HA and IR on pathophysiology of various related symptoms of PCOS is very important to understand the pathogenesis of PCOS. This paper reviews the main symptoms of PCOS, including neuroendocrine disorders, reproductive processes, dyslipidemia, obesity, hypertension, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and sleep disordered breathing, which seriously affect the physical and mental health of PCOS women. The increasing knowledge of the development pattern of HA and IR in PCOS suggests that changes in diet and lifestyle, and the discovery of potential therapeutic agents may improve PCOS. However, further studies are needed to clarify the mutual influence and relation of HA and IR in development of PCOS. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge about the effects of HA and IR on PCOS.

Keywords: Advanced glycosylation end products; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Hyperandrogenemia; Insulin resistance; PCOS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / pathology
  • Risk Factors