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Clin Exp Immunol. 1992 Dec;90(3):401-4.

Cystic ovaries in women affected with hereditary angioedema.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Chirurgia, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.


Polycystic ovary (PCO) syndrome is biochemically characterized by abnormal gonadotropin secretion and polycystic ovaries associated with increase in size and functional activity of stromal tissue; multifollicular ovaries (MFO) are defined by the presence of multiple cysts with no increase in stromal tissue. A central (hypothalamic-pituitary) abnormality, including high plasma beta-endorphin (BE) concentrations without simultaneous elevation of ACTH, was reported for subjects with PCO syndrome. Since we have found the presence of high plasma BE concentrations in hereditary angioedema (HANE) during attacks as well as during symptom-free periods, we studied, by means of pelvic ultrasound scanning employed to determine the prevalence of PCO and of MFO, 13 women of reproductive age affected with HANE who were not on oral contraceptives. We have found PCO in 5/13 (38.4%) and MFO in 7/13 (53.8%) HANE patients. Nine patients had oligomenorrhoea (five with PCO, three with MFO, one with normal ovaries), five (three with PCO, two with MFO) were hirsute and only one (with MFO) had weight loss. No patient was obese. Mean plasma LH, testosterone, prolactin, cortisol and ACTH concentrations were normal, while FSH was significantly reduced and LH/FSH ratio increased. BE concentrations were significantly high in all the patients studied. Our results clearly demonstrate that women with HANE frequently have cystic ovaries (polycystic or multifollicular) in the presence of high BE concentrations.

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