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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983 May;56(5):897-903.

Steroid secretion in polycystic ovarian disease after ovarian suppression by a long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist.


The principal glandular source of increased serum androgens in polycystic ovarian disease (PCO) is controversial), since complete separation of ovarian from adrenal function has not been achieved. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a long-acting GnRH agonist could be used to selectively inhibit ovarian steroid secretion in PCO and ovulatory women. Each of five typical PCO patients and six ovulatory subjects on day 2 of their menstrual cycles received D-Trp6-Pro9-NEt-LHRH (GnRH-a; 100 micrograms) for 28 consecutive days. Their results were compared to basal serum hormone values in eight oophorectomized women. In response to GnRH-a, PCO and normal subjects exhibited sharp and sustained rises of LH and gradual decreases in FSH. These levels were clearly less than basal levels seen in oophorectomized women. Episodic LH release was significantly attenuated in both groups at the end of GnRH-a treatment. After the administration of agonist, serum estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), androstenedione (A), and testosterone (T) were suppressed to castrate levels in both groups. The decrements of E2 and E1 in PCO were gradual and continuous compared to initial dramatic rises, which reached peaks at 14 days, and subsequent abrupt falls in the ovulatory controls. Serum A and T declined steadily in both groups. Basal serum dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, but not cortisol, levels were elevated in PCO subjects. The 24-h secretion patterns and responses to ACTH of these hormones in PCO and ovulatory subjects were unaltered by GnRH-a administration. These data demonstrate that 1) in PCO subjects, GnRH-a induced complete suppression of ovarian steroid secretion, as circulating levels at the end of treatment were comparable to those seen in our oophorectomy subjects; 2) elevated A and T levels in PCO patients were derived primarily from the ovary; and 3) adrenal steroid secretion was unaltered by GnRH-a in both PCO and normal women.

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