Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age characterized by chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism, and also associated with insulin resistance. Subclinical chronic inflammation might be an important pathogenetic factor in the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and recently has been also observed in PCOS. There is evidence for a familial predisposition not only to hormonal abnormalities but also to metabolic disorders in first-degree relatives of women affected by PCOS.
This study was performed to determine whether sisters and brothers of women with PCOS had evidence for a low-grade chronic inflammation and to evaluate the associations between the markers of chronic inflammation and various components of insulin resistance, hormones, and metabolic parameters.
One Hundred women with PCOS, 40 sisters and 40 brothers of these probands were studied. Levels of hormones (T, DHEA-S, androstendione, 17-OHP, LH, FSH, PRL, TSH) SHBG, hsCRP, fibrinogen, WBC count, serum lipid profile, glucose and insulin (at baseline and during OGTT 0′, 30′, 60′, 120′) were measured. Insulin resistance was assessed by fasting insulin, HOMA-IR, FIRI and area under the curve for insulin during the OGTT.
Insulin resistance, hyperinsulinaemia and decreased SHBG level was common in family members of PCOS women independently of BMI. We observed higher levels of hsCRP, fibrinogen and WBC count in women with PCOS but not in sisters and brothers. Markers of chronic inflammation positively correlated with BMI and insulin resistance.
The probability of finding the metabolic disorders, particularly insulin resistance, in the first-degree relatives of women with PCOS is higher than in the control groups. It appears that a low-grade chronic inflammation is stronger related with central obesity than with PCOS status per se.