Article thumbnail

A novel method to demonstrate that pregnant women with polycystic ovary syndrome hyper-expose their fetus to androgens as a possible stepping stone for the developmental theory of PCOS. A pilot study

By Roy Homburg, Anil Gudi, Amit Shah and Alison M. Layton


Abstract Background Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), whose aetiology is unknown, is predominately a familial syndrome but confirmation of candidate genes has proved elusive. The developmental hypothesis for the origin of PCOS suggests that exposure of the fetus to excess androgens influences imprinting, leading to altered genetic expression in adult life. The aim of this pilot study was to examine whether the female fetus of a mother with PCOS is indeed exposed to excess androgens. Methods Using sebum production in the newborn as a surrogate for exposure to excess androgens during pregnancy thisprospective case control studyexamined whether neonatal sebum excretion is greater in female infants born to PCOS mothers compared to non-PCOS. Women with known PCOS (all 3 Rotterdam criteria) (n = 9) and non-PCOS controls (n = 12), with a female fetus, were recruited at 24 weeks pregnancy and serum testosterone estimated. Sebum was measured using Sebutape® for 30 and 60 min within 24 h of birth, at 1 week, 4–6 weeks and 6 months after birth in both mother and child. Sebum excretion was measured in mother and child in the same site at each time frame and consistently. All semi-quantitative sebum excretion estimations were compared (t-test) between the two groups and correlated with testosterone concentrations during pregnancy. Results In this pilot study, 21 women completed the 6 month examination period (PCOS group (n = 9) and controls (n = 12). Mean testosterone was 6.2 nmol/L (normal <3.1 nmol/L) in PCOS mothers and 2.75 nmol/L in controls at 24 weeks pregnancy. At all time frames, the results of sebum excretion at 30 and 60 min were consistent. The sebum excretion of mothers in both groups was fairly constant from birth throughout 6 months. All babies were born between 37 and 41 weeks gestational age. Six of nine newborns had detectable sebum excretion at birth in the PCOS mothers group compared to 1 of 12 in the controls (P = 0.01). Conclusions These results suggest that women with PCOS could hyper-expose their fetus to androgens in-utero and that this may be detected using a simple novel test within 24 h of birth to predict development of PCOS in adult life and induce research to eliminate its symptoms. Trial registration NCT 02654548 .Clinical Trials UK.Retrospectively registered 11/1/16

Topics: Pcos, Developmental hypothesis, Androgens, Sebum, Gynecology and obstetrics, RG1-991, Reproduction, QH471-489
Publisher: BMC
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1186/s12958-017-0282-1
OAI identifier:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.