Cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome discovered at last
Article from NewScientist.com
By Alice Klein
The most common cause of female infertility – polycystic ovary syndrome – may be caused by a hormonal imbalance before birth. The finding has led to a cure in mice, and a drug trial is set to begin in women later this year.
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects up to one in five women worldwide, three-quarters of whom struggle to fall pregnant. The condition is typically characterised by high levels of testosterone, ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and problems regulating sugar, but the causes have long been a mystery. “It’s by far the most common hormonal condition affecting women of reproductive age but it hasn’t received a lot of attention,” says Robert Norman at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Treatments are available for helping affected women get pregnant, but their success rates are typically less than 30 per cent across five menstrual cycles.
Now, Paolo Giacobini at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and his colleagues have found that the syndrome may be triggered before birth by excess exposure in the womb to a hormone called anti-Müllerian hormone.