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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2011 Sep;75(3):378-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04042.x.

Thyroidal effect of metformin treatment in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Unit of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri IRCCS, ISPESL Laboratory for Endocrine Disruptors, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.



Metformin is widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Growing evidence supports the beneficial effects of metformin also in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It was recently reported that metformin has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with diabetes being treated with metformin.


Aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of metformin treatment on the thyroid hormone profile in patients with PCOS.


Thirty-three patients with PCOS were specifically selected for being either treated with levothyroxine for a previous diagnosis of hypothyroidism (n = 7), untreated subclinically hypothyroid (n = 2) or euthyroid without levothyroxine treatment (n = 24) before the starting of metformin. The serum levels of TSH and FT(4) were measured before and after a 4-month period of metformin therapy.


Thyroid function parameters did not change after starting metformin therapy in euthyroid patients with PCOS. In the 9 hypothyroid patients with PCOS, the basal median serum levels of TSH (3·2 mIU/l, range = 0·4-7·1 mIU/l) significantly (P < 0·05) decreased after a 4-month course of metformin treatment (1·7 mIU/l, range = 0·5-5·2 mIU/l). No significant change in the serum levels of FT4 was observed in these patients. The TSH-lowering effect of metformin was not related to the administered dose of the drug, which was similar in euthyroid as compared with hypothyroid patients with PCOS (1406 ± 589 vs 1322 ± 402 mg/day, respectively; NS).


These results indicate that metformin treatment has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with PCOS, both treated with l-thyroxine and untreated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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