PCOS: Hyperandrogenism Associated With Changes in Gut Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Varykina Thackray, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Reproductive Medicine University of California, San Diego

Dr. Thackray

Varykina Thackray, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Reproductive Medicine
University of California, San Diego

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous studies have shown that changes in the composition of intestinal microbes (gut microbiome) are associated with metabolic diseases. Since many women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have metabolic dysregulation that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, we wondered whether PCOS was associated with changes in the gut microbiome and if these changes were linked to any clinical features of PCOS.

We collaborated with Beata Banaszewska and her colleagues at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, Poland to obtain clinical data and fecal samples from 163 premenopausal women recruited for the study. In collaboration with Scott Kelley at San Diego State University, we used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and bioinformatics analyses to show that the diversity of the gut microbiome was reduced in Polish women with PCOS compared to healthy women and women with polycystic ovaries but no other symptoms of PCOS.

The study confirmed findings reported in two other recent studies with smaller cohorts of Caucasian and Han Chinese women. Since many factors could affect the gut microbiome in women with PCOS, regression analysis was used to identify clinical hallmarks that correlated with changes in the gut microbiome. In contrast to body mass index or insulin resistance, hyperandrogenism was associated with changes in the gut microbiome in this cohort of women, suggesting that elevated testosterone may be an important factor in shaping the gut microbiome in women.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Why many women with PCOS have metabolic dysregulation (e.g. weight gain, insulin resistance) that results in an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes is not well understood although previous studies have shown that elevated testosterone levels correlate with metabolic dysregulation in women with PCOS. The demonstration that hyperandrogenism is associated with changes in the gut microbiome in women with PCOS suggests that androgens may influence the composition of the gut microbiome and metabolism. This study further suggests that restoration of the gut microbiome may be a potential treatment for women with PCOS. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: This study showed that women with PCOS had decreased diversity in their gut microbiome and that these changes were associated with elevated androgen levels. Much more research needs to be done in clinical studies and animal models to understand the role that the gut microbiome plays in the development or pathology of PCOS. It would be informative if studies addressed how slightly higher levels of testosterone can influence the gut microbiome and metabolism in women. Additional studies will also be needed to determine how testerosterone functionally changes the gut microbiome and whether specific probiotics could be a treatment option for women with PCOS. 

No disclosures

Gut Microbial Diversity in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Correlates with Hyperandrogenism

Pedro J Torres Martyna Siakowska Beata Banaszewska Leszek PawelczykAntoni J Duleba Scott T Kelley Varykina G Thackray

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, jc.2017-02153,https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2017-02153
23 January 2018



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Last Updated on January 24, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD