Cause of polycystic ovary syndrome discovered at last

Maricruz Casares
May 16, 2018

Researchers surmise that this could be why it has been so hard to find the specific cause of PCOS, as it was being passed from mother to daughter via hormones while still inside the womb.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)-the leading cause of infertility in women-could be triggered in the womb, according to scientists who have reversed the little-understood condition in mice. In women, this can include irregular periods, excess ance and hair growth on the body and face, as well as ovarian cysts. Millions of women all over the world are affected by the condition, and researchers may have finally found the cause and treatment for it.

PCOS effects up to 5 million US women, according to the CDC, and those with PCOS have higher levels of male hormones called androgens, which can result in the absence of ovulation (leading to infertility).

The study published in Nature Medicine found that levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) were 30 per cent higher in pregnant women with condition than those without. Since the syndrome is known to run in families, they wondered if this hormonal imbalance in pregnancy might induce the same condition in their daughters.

To test this, researchers injected pregnant mice with high levels of AMH and followed the development of their offspring postnatally.

Professor Norman stated that these new findings open up "a whole range of opportunities for further investigation" on infertility and PCOS.

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The overexposure to AMH in the womb caused an "overstimulation of a particular set of brain cells called GnRH neurons", IFL Science reported.

This means the offspring displays higher level of testosterone.

And the team weren't just able to determine the cause of PCOS, they reversed it into mice. After treatment with this drug, the mice stopped showing symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. Dr. Paolo Giacobini, head scientist of this study, and his team hope to start human trials by the end of the year.

If the syndrome is indeed passed from mothers to daughters via hormones in the womb, that could explain why it's been so hard to pinpoint any genetic cause of the disorder, says Norman.

Dr. Paolo Giacobini, lead author of the study, told New Scientist: "It [the drug] could be an attractive strategy to restore ovulation and eventually increase the pregnancy rate in these women".

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