High-fat high-sugar diet induces polycystic ovary syndrome in a rodent model†

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Obesity has been linked with a host of metabolic and reproductive disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). While a clear association exists between obesity and PCOS, the exact nature of this relationship remains unexplained. The primary symptoms of PCOS include hyperandrogenism, anovulation, and polycystic ovaries. Most animal models utilize androgen treatments to induce PCOS. However, these models often fail to address the underlying causes of the disease and do not effectively reproduce key metabolic features such as hyperinsulinemia. Here, we present a novel rodent model of diet-induced obesity that recapitulates both the metabolic and reproductive phenotypes of human PCOS. Rats on a high-fat high-sugar (HFHS) diet not only demonstrated signs of metabolic impairment, but they also developed polycystic ovaries and experienced irregular estrous cycling. Though hyperandrogenism was not characteristic of HFHS animals as a group, elevated testosterone levels were predictive of high numbers of ovarian cysts. Alterations in steroidogenesis and folliculogenesis gene expression were also found via RNA sequencing of ovarian tissue. Importantly, the PCOS-like symptoms induced in these rats may share a similar etiology to PCOS in humans. Therefore, this model offers a unique opportunity to study PCOS at its genesis rather than following the development of disease symptoms.

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