Metabolic profiling of polycystic ovary syndrome reveals interactions with abdominal obesity

A Couto Alves, B Valcarcel, V-P Mäkinen, L Morin-Papunen, S Sebert, A J Kangas, P Soininen, S Das, M De Iorio, L Coin, M Ala-Korpela, M-R Järvelin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive disorder associated with metabolic disturbances including obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus. Here we investigate whether changes in the metabolic profile of PCOS women are driven by increased tendency to obesity or are specific features of PCOS related to increased testosterone levels.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted an NMR metabolomics association study of PCOS cases (n=145) and controls (n=687) nested in a population-based birth cohort (n=3127). Subjects were 31 years old at examination. The main analyses were adjusted for waist circumference (WC) as a proxy measure of central obesity. Subsequently, metabolite concentrations were compared between cases and controls within pre-defined WC strata. In each stratum, additional metabolomics association analyses with testosterone levels were conducted separately among cases and controls.

RESULTS: Overall, women with PCOS showed more adverse metabolite profiles than the controls. Four lipid fractions in different subclasses of very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) were associated with PCOS, after adjusting for WC and correction for multiple testing (P<0.002). In stratified analysis the PCOS women within large WC strata (⩾98 cm) had significantly lower high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, Apo A1 and albumin values compared with the controls. Testosterone levels were significantly associated with VLDL and serum lipids in PCOS cases with large WC but not in the controls. The higher testosterone levels, adjusted for WC, associated adversely with insulin levels and HOMA IR in cases but not in the controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that both abdominal obesity and hyperandrogenism contribute to the dyslipidaemia and other metabolic traits of PCOS which all may negatively contribute to the long-term health of women with PCOS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1331-1340
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number9
Early online date26 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2017


  • Adult
  • Dyslipidemias/epidemiology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Finland/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism/epidemiology
  • Insulin/metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance/physiology
  • Metabolomics
  • Obesity, Abdominal/epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome/epidemiology
  • Testosterone/metabolism
  • Waist Circumference/physiology


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