Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in women of reproductive age

Hepatol Commun. 2022 Oct;6(10):2634-2639. doi: 10.1002/hep4.2039. Epub 2022 Jul 21.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs in approximately 10% of all reproductive-age women, with over 50% of these patients having imaging-confirmed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether PCOS increases the risk for more clinically relevant disease, such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is unclear. Such findings are relevant to prognosticating risk of progressive liver disease in the growing population of young adults with NAFLD. Using weighted discharge data from the United States National Inpatient Sample from 2016 to 2018, we evaluated the association of PCOS with the presence of NASH among reproductive-age women with NAFLD. The association of PCOS with NASH was assessed by logistic regression, adjusting for demographic and comprehensive metabolic comorbidities. Other causes of hepatic steatosis and chronic liver diseases were excluded. Our analysis included 189,440 reproductive-age women with NAFLD, 9415 of whom had PCOS. Of those with PCOS, 1390 (15%) had a distinct code for NASH. Women with PCOS were younger (median age, 33 vs. 40 years; p < 0.001) and more likely to have diabetes (37.0% vs. 34.0%), obesity (83.0% vs. 58.0%), dyslipidemia (26.0% vs. 21.0%), and hypertension (38.0% vs. 35.0%) (all p ≤ 0.01). On adjusted analysis accounting for these metabolic comorbidities, PCOS remained independently associated with an increased prevalence of NASH (adjusted odds ratio, 1.22; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-1.42; p = 0.008). Conclusions: Among reproductive-age women with NAFLD, metabolic risk factors were more common in those with PCOS. Despite adjustment for these metabolic comorbidities, PCOS remained associated with a 22% higher odds of having NASH. These findings support efforts to increase NAFLD screening in young women with PCOS and highlight the potential "head start" in progressive liver disease among young women with PCOS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dyslipidemias* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult