Characterization of gut microbiota in polycystic ovary syndrome: Findings from a lean population

Eur J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr;51(4):e13417. doi: 10.1111/eci.13417. Epub 2020 Oct 14.


Background: Limited available animal and human data suggest an association between dysbiosis of gut microbiota and PCOS. We aimed to determine whether gut microbiota in lean women with PCOS shows any alterations compared to healthy women.

Materials and methods: Twenty-four lean patients with PCOS phenotype A according to the Rotterdam 2003 diagnostic criteria and 22 BMI-matched healthy women were included in this study. Anthropometric, hormonal and biochemical measurements were carried out in all participants. 16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region amplicon sequencing was performed on stool samples. Preprocessing of the raw data was performed using QIIME, and both QIIME and R packages were used for microbiome analysis.

Results: Bacterial richness and diversity did not show a significant difference between patients and controls. Beta diversity was similar between the groups. However, Erysipelotrichaceae, Proteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, Planococcaceae, Gemmules and Bacillales were significantly abundant in PCOS group according to LEfSe analysis. Clostridium cluster XVII showed increased abundance in patient group, while Clostridium sensustricto and Roseburia were decreased compared to controls. Random forest prediction analysis revealed Clostridium cluster XIVb as the most discriminative feature of patient group and Roseburia for healthy controls. Testosterone and androstenedione were negatively correlated with alpha and phylogenetic diversity.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that gut microbiome of lean PCOS patients with full phenotype shows compositional alterations with similar bacterial richness and diversity compared to controls and that hyperandrogenism is associated with dysbiosis.

Keywords: PCOS; dysbiosis; hyperandrogenism; microbiome; phenotype; testosterone.

MeSH terms

  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Bacillales
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Clostridium
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Female
  • Firmicutes
  • Gammaproteobacteria
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Planococcaceae
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Proteobacteria
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione