Introduction: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrinopathy in women of reproductive age and is characterized by chronic anovulation and clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism. Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT) is a common disease of organ-specific autoimmunity affecting predominantly women, that is attributed to an interaction between a genetic background and environmental factors. There are few data showing higher AIT prevalence in PCOS patients.
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of AIT in women with PCOS.
Patients/methods: We studied 272 women diagnosed with PCOS according to the NIH (1990) criteria and 164 age- and weight-matched control women. All patients underwent a hormonal and biochemical evaluation. AIT was diagnosed in women with high levels of anti-Tg and/or anti-TPO antibodies who were further evaluated with thyroid ultrasound. Insulin resistance was assessed by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR).
Results: No significant difference was found in the prevalence of AIT between the two groups (34/272 (12.5%) PCOS patients and 24/164 (14.6%) controls were diagnosed with AIT). PCOS patients with AIT compared to PCOS patients without AIT were significantly older (P<0.01), more obese (P<0.001) and had lower serum SHBG levels (P<0.001). Control women with AIT compared to control women without AIT were significantly older (P<0.001), had lower serum total testosterone and DHEAS levels (P<0.05 and P<0.001 respectively) and were more insulin resistant as assessed by HOMA-IR (P<0.001).
Conclusion: In our cohort, the prevalence of AIT was similar in PCOS women and normal ovulatory women. Further studies with a greater number of participants are needed in order to clarify a possible relationship between these two common entities.
Declaration of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research project.
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.