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Hum Reprod. 2009 Jul;24(7):1548-55. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep049. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Androgen circle of polycystic ovary syndrome.

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  • 1Reproductive Medicine Division, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam 1007 MB, The Netherlands.


Although the aetiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is still not known and the search for causative genes is proving elusive, it is generally agreed that hyperandrogenism is at the heart of the syndrome. Here, it is proposed that excess androgens are the root cause of PCOS starting from their influence on the female fetus in programming gene expression, producing the characteristic signs and symptoms which are then exacerbated by a propagation of excess ovarian androgen production from multiple small follicles, anovulation and insulin resistance in the reproductive life-span, thus setting up a vicious perpetual circle of androgen excess. This opinion paper, rather than being a full-scale review, is intentionally biased in support of this hypothesis that androgen excess is the 'root of all evil' in PCOS; in the hope that its acceptance could lead to more direct treatment of the syndrome in all its facets rather than the symptomatic treatment of side effects of androgen excess that we are addressing today.

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