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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Endocrine comparison of obese menstruating and amenorrheic women.

10 examine the relationship between obesity and chronic anovulation, we compared basal serum LH, FSH, and PRL levels, determined at 20-min intervals, and basal C21 [progesterone, 17- hydroxyprogesterone , pregnenolone, 17-hydroxypregnenolone ( 17Pe ), and cortisol], C19 [testosterone ( T), delta 4-androstenedione (A), and dehydroepiandrosterone] and C18 (estrone and estradiol) steroid hormone concentrations measured at 1- to 2-h intervals for a 24-h period in five normal weight cycling women (NC) and in two groups of weight-matched obese women. Five of the obese women were regularly cycling (OC), and six were amenorrheic (OA). Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and non-SHBG-bound T and estradiol concentrations were also measured in each woman. Compared to NC women, OC women had normal basal protein and steroid hormone concentrations, except for reduced 17Pe levels (P less than 0.05). Mean SHBG concentrations were reduced by approximately 30%, and non-SHBG-bound T was increased by 70%, although the differences were not significant. In addition, when six precursors of testosterone (pregnenolone, 17Pe , dehydroepiandrosterone, progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, and A) were considered together as a group and the data analyzed by the kappa 2 test, a reduction in basal levels of these precursors was found in OC women relative to those in NC women (P less than 0.005). In OA women, mean concentrations of SHBG were markedly reduced and those of total T, A, estrone, and non-SHBG-bound T were significantly increased compared to those in both NC and OC women. Mean 24-h concentrations of LH tended to be greatest and FSH lowest in this group, but were not significantly different from those in the other groups. The mean LH pulse frequency was significantly greater in OA than in OC women (P less than 0.05). Mean 24-h PRL and cortisol levels were also reduced in OA women relative to those in NC women. These data suggest the possibility of a compensatory decline in total T production in OC women in an attempt to maintain normal hormonal homeostasis; as a consequence, ovulation continues in a cyclic fashion. In OA women, such compensatory mechanisms are no longer operative. Instead, a central and/or peripheral defect, resulting in overproduction of androgen, may also exist and lead to anovulation in OA women. In conclusion, our data imply that obesity is not a primary factor causing chronic anovulation. However, obesity may aggravate an already existing subtle defect in some women and result in amenorrhea.[1]


  1. Endocrine comparison of obese menstruating and amenorrheic women. Zhang, Y.W., Stern, B., Rebar, R.W. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1984) [Pubmed]
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