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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Apr;90(4):1929-35. Epub 2004 Dec 28.

Prevalence and characteristics of the metabolic syndrome in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, P.O. Box 980111, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0111, USA.


The polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by insulin resistance with compensatory hyperinsulinemia. Insulin resistance also plays a role in the metabolic syndrome (MBS). We hypothesized that the MBS is prevalent in PCOS and that women with both conditions would present with more hyperandrogenism and menstrual cycle irregularity than women with PCOS only. We conducted a retrospective chart review of all women with PCOS seen over a 3-yr period at an endocrinology clinic. Of the 161 PCOS cases reviewed, 106 met the inclusion criteria. The women were divided into two groups: 1) women with PCOS and the MBS (n = 46); and 2) women with PCOS lacking the MBS (n = 60). Prevalence of the MBS was 43%, nearly 2-fold higher than that reported for age-matched women in the general population. Women with PCOS had persistently higher prevalence rates of the MBS than women in the general population, regardless of matched age and body mass index ranges. Acanthosis nigricans was more frequent in women with PCOS and the MBS. Women with PCOS and the MBS had significantly higher levels of serum free testosterone (P = 0.002) and lower levels of serum SHBG (P = 0.001) than women with PCOS without the MBS. No differences in total testosterone were observed between the groups. We conclude that the MBS and its components are common in women with PCOS, placing them at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Women with PCOS and the MBS differ from their counterparts lacking the MBS in terms of increased hyperandrogenemia, lower serum SHBG, and higher prevalence of acanthosis nigricans, all features that may reflect more severe insulin resistance.

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