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Panminerva Medica 2008 December;50(4):267-78

Copyright © 2008 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Polycystic ovary syndrome: pathophysiology, molecular aspects and clinical implications

Nardo L. G. 1, Patchava S. 1, Laing I. 2

1 Department of Reproductive Medicine St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, UK 2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK


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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age (5-10% prevalence) and the most common cause of anovulatory infertility. A recent consensus has led to the formulation of unifying diagnostic criteria for PCOS. It is multifactorial and polygenic in nature. Although the ovary is central to the pathogenesis of PCOS, however neuroendocrine, ovarian and metabolic dysfunctions play a significant role in the pathophysiology. Short- and long-term consequences of the syndrome have been the focus of much interest. The association of PCOS with hyperandrogenism, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance is known and some of the putative molecular aspects are established. Menstrual abnormalities (oligo- or amenorrhea), subfertility, obesity and symptoms of androgen excess are often the main reasons for early referral, whereas diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer represent a clinical finding later in life. It is plausible that appropriate specialist medical management improves the wellbeing of women with PCOS.

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