Influence of adrenal hyperandrogenism on the clinical and metabolic phenotype of women with polycystic ovary syndrome

The presence of adrenal hyperandrogenism in women with polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with reduced insulin sensitivity and increased blood pressure, but may have a beneficial impact on the lipid profile.

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Macarena Alpañés, M.D., Manuel Luque-Ramírez, M.D., Ph.D., M. Ángeles Martínez-García, Ph.D., Elena Fernández-Durán, B.S., Francisco Álvarez-Blasco, M.D., Ph.D., Héctor Francisco Escobar-Morreale, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 103, Issue 3, Pages 795-801



To study the impact of adrenal hyperandrogenism (AH; defined as DHEAS concentration >95th percentile of a healthy female control population) on cardiometabolic risk factors associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Cross-sectional study.


Academic hospital.


Two-hundred ninety-eight consecutive women with PCOS, of whom 120 were obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2) and 178 nonobese (BMI



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Comprehensive evaluation of cardiovascular risk factors, including 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, office blood pressure, lipid profile, and low-grade inflammatory markers.


Patients with AH (AH-PCOS) had higher insulin circulating levels and lower insulin sensitivity than their counterparts without AH (non-AH-PCOS). Obesity, but not AH, was the main contributor to the presence of glucose tolerance disorders. Both obesity and AH increased the prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension. AH diminished high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in nonobese PCOS women in parallel with a decrease in total cholesterol levels, leading to a total to HDL cholesterol ratio similar to that of nonobese non-AH-PCOS patients. Furthermore, AH blunted the deleterious effect of obesity on the total cholesterol/HDL ratio, with the ratio of obese AH-PCOS patients being similar to that of nonobese PCOS patients with or without AH.


The presence of AH in women with PCOS is associated with reduced insulin sensitivity and increased blood pressure but may have beneficial impact on the lipid profile. Obesity is the main determinant of the clustering of cardiovascular risk factors in PCOS women.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.