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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Jun;53(1-6):529-31.

Sex hormone-binding globulin and female reproductive function.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London, U.K.


Although sex steroids have long been known to influence serum concentrations of SHBG, it is now recognized that nutritional factors may be more important in the regulation of SHBG in women. Thus, SHBG concentrations are negatively correlated with body mass index (BMI) and, more particularly, to indices of central adiposity. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common cause of anovulatory infertility, is associated with truncal obesity, hyperandrogenism and hyperinsulinaemia. There is evidence that insulin may be the humoral mediator of the weight-dependent changes in SHBG. Serum SHBG concentrations are inversely correlated with both fasting and glucose-stimulated insulin levels, and insulin has been shown to have a direct inhibitory effect on SHBG synthesis and secretion by hepatocytes in culture. However, the interrelationship of BMI, insulin and SHBG appears to be different in women with PCOS from that in normal subjects. The clinical importance of the weight-related suppression of SHBG is illustrated by the finding of a greater prevalence of hirsutism in obese women PCOS compared with their lean counterparts. Obese subjects with PCOS have similar total testosterone concentrations to lean PCO women but have lower SHBG and reciprocally higher free testosterone levels. Calorie restriction results in reduction of serum insulin followed by an increase in SHBG and a fall in free testosterone but an isocaloric, low-fat diet has no significant effect on SHBG concentrations. Weight reduction in obese, hyperandrogenaemic women with PCO is an important approach to the management of both anovulation and hirsutism.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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