MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
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.