Possible new treatment for PCOS


Obese women have long struggled with infertility. Insulin - increased levels of it associated with being overweight - has long been considered the culprit. But a new Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study challenges this assumption and outlined a new way of looking at the affect of insulin.

It has been thought that increased levels of insulin occurring over time cause an insulin resistance in the body which leads to infertility. Insulin resistance causes abnormal regulation of blood sugar and an insensitivity to insulin in the liver and muscle cells. It occurs in people with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the leading cause of infertility for women with one in ten women suffering from it.

Doctors now believe that instead of becoming resistant, the pituitary gland becomes increasingly agitated by the chronically elevated levels of insulin and triggers a release of hormones that disrupt the function of ovaries and lead to infertility. The study is published in the September 8 medical journal Cell Metabolism.

“What we propose is fundamentally new model showing that different tissues respond to obesity differently, and that while cells in the liver and muscle do become insulin resistant, cells in the pituitary remain sensitive to insulin,” said principle researcher Andrew Wolfe, Ph.D.

The standard go to for treating infertility in obese women was to lower the insulin levels. This new research suggests an alternate treatment: reduce the pituitary gland’s sensitivity to insulin so that it will not send out hormones which ultimately cause infertility.

A pituitary prophylactic, if you will. In experiments with mice they were able to achieve that result, reduction in the pituitary gland’s reaction to insulin, but they were unable to achieve successful pregnancy. The thought continues that the ovaries may also be responding to high insulin levels. More experiments will be done before a new treatment is devised.

Source: John Hopkins, ScienceDaily


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