Lower insulin sensitivity differentiates hirsute from non-hirsute Sicilian women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Marco C Amato, Aldo Galluzzo, Simona Merlino, Antonina Mattina, Pierina Richiusa, Angela Criscimanna, Carla Giordano
European Journal of Endocrinology 2006, 155 (6): 859-65

OBJECTIVE: It is well known that hyperandrogenism and insulin-resistance with or without compensatory hyperinsulinism are closely associated, but the Rotterdam Consensus has concluded that principally obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) should be evaluated for the metabolic syndrome. Our aim was to study insulin sensitivity in PCOS women with hirsutism regardless of obesity.

METHODS: Clinical characteristics, sex hormones and fasting- and after OGTT-glycemia and insulinemia, homeostatic model of insulin resistance (HOMA IR), and Matsuda index of insulin sensitivity were analyzed in 130 women with PCOS. Hirsutism has been evaluated through the Ferriman-Gallwey (FG) map scoring system.

RESULTS: PCOS women with hirsutism (57.7% of participants) showed significant higher values of total testosterone levels (P = 0.016), free testosterone (P = 0.027), DHEA sulfate (P = 0.017), and Delta4androstenedione (P = 0.018). They had similar body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.073) and were significantly less insulin sensitive (P = 0.002) than those without hirsutism (42.3% of participants). In women with PCOS and hirsutism, there was a significant correlation between FG score and insulin-sensitivity indexes (HOMA IR, rho = 0.33, P = 0.005; Matsuda index, rho = -0.34, P = 0.003) but not with the androgen levels. Moreover, women with hirsutism showed a significantly greater insulin (P = 0.019), C-peptide (P = 0.002), and glucose (P = 0.024) areas under the curve (auc2h).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that the increased responsiveness of the pilo-sebaceous unit to androgens seems to be influenced by insulin sensitivity and that insulin resistance should be assessed in all hirsute women with PCOS regardless of their BMI, as insulin resistance was found in hirsute women irrespective of whether they were overweight or obese.

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