Enlarged adipocytes in subcutaneous adipose tissue associated to hyperandrogenism and visceral adipose tissue volume in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

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Abstract

Context:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an androgen excess disorder associated with obesity and adipose tissue disturbances. Our aim was to evaluate gene expression of adipocytokines and adipocyte characteristics in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) of PCOS women.

Design:

Twelve PCOS (PCOSw) and 12 control (Cw) premenopausal women (BMI 20–35 kg/m2) were included, with measurements of whole-body composition assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) volume, by magnetic resonance imaging. An oral glucose tolerance test was performed with measurements of glucose and insulin, and sex steroids, lipid profile and serum adipocytokines were determined in the fasting sample. Adipocytokine gene expression, mean adipocyte area and macrophage infiltration were evaluated in SAT biopsies.

Results:

Both groups were comparable in age and BMI. Trunk fat mass amount (p = .043), serum and SAT leptin/adiponectin ratio (p = .034 and p = .028, respectively) and adipocyte area (p = .015) were higher in PCOSw compared to Cw. Interestingly, trunk fat mass was positively correlated with adipocyte area in PCOSw (r = 0.821, p = .023), while the inverse correlation was found in Cw (r = −0.786, p = .021). Only in PCOSw, adipocyte area was positively correlated with serum testosterone (r = 0.857, p = .014) and visceral adipose tissue volume (r = 0.857, p = .014).

Conclusions:

Our results indicate that PCOS women present adipose tissue dysfunction in the subcutaneous compartment, characterized by an alteration in adipocyte size and leptin/adiponectin expression and secretion, probably associated with higher androgen concentrations.

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